Go Ahead and Ask
My friend and I sat across from one another at our greasy, small-town breakfast joint. He was enjoying a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and thinking about football. All I could think of were ninety-nine reasons why asking him to read the Bible with me was a terrible idea.
Five reasons to go ahead and ask
Have you ever been there? If so, take heart. Here are five reasons why you should go ahead and ask that friend to read with you, even if you feel nervous.
1) You don’t know what God might be doing in their life
The truth is, you don’t know how the Lord might already be moving in a person’s life, drawing them to himself (John 10:27).
You assume your co-worker would never be interested in the things of God. You think he’d never read with you. And yet, you didn’t see him last week when he pulled his grandfather’s old King James off the shelf. You didn’t see him trace the old man’s notes in the margin with his fingers, longing to have the sense of purpose he had.
You assume your brother-in-law will never turn to Christ. And yet, while you’ve been moping over his disinterest in spiritual matters, he has spent the last three hours watching Jordan Peterson online, desperate for someone—anyone—to help him make sense of his life.
You assume your neighbor has written off Jesus, yet yesterday she cried out to God for the first time in years.
We do not know how God might be moving in our friends’ lives. So go ahead and ask. You may, like Philip in Acts 8, stumble upon a person who is ready and waiting for someone to tell them the truth.
2) You might be the only ‘church’ they see
I don't have to tell you that fewer and fewer people today are going to church. I also don't have to tell you that for some even stepping foot on a Christian campus seems inconceivable. (If you have trouble imagining this, consider how you might feel walking into an Islamic worship service or a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ meeting.)
While our friends may never darken our church’s doors, we can take the gospel to them. God is sovereign. He has placed people in our lives for a reason (Phil 1:12-13). It is no coincidence that we work where we work, were born into the family we were born into, and happen to like rugby and photography. So consider who God has sovereignly placed in your life and ask, "How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" (Rom 10:14).
3) You are never going to feel like you know ‘enough’
If you wait until you feel 100% equipped to read the Bible one-to-one with that non-Christian friend, I can guarantee you’ll never do it. It’s okay to feel like you haven’t ‘arrived’. None of us have. It’s right to feel a sense of holy desperation when you consider the task of reading one-to-one.
God’s not calling you to be a contestant on a Bible trivia game show. Nor is he asking you to write a dissertation on the identity of the Beast in Revelation 13. All he’s calling you to do is to have a conversation over his Word.
Consider how Christianity spread in the first century. Sure, Peter preached at Pentecost, and thousands came to Christ; Philip proclaimed Christ in Samaria and "the crowds with one accord paid attention" (Acts 8:6). However, the most significant gospel growth came as ordinary Christians reached out to ordinary people in love and simply had a conversation.
4) You might be surprised by what they say
If you’re a genuine person and a true friend to your non-believing friend, chances are they won’t be offended by the fact you asked them to read. Now, they may say, “That’s not for me,” or “Not right now,” but the chances of this severing the relationship are pretty low. In fact, in a study a few years ago, researchers in America discovered that 61% of millennials said they would “be willing to study the Bible if a friend asked me to.”
Most people want to know about their friend’s interests. Your friends want to know about your love for Chinese food or your passion for carpentry. As humans, we invite people to share our interests all the time. Instead of assuming the worst about your co-worker or neighbor, why not hope for the best? They may not be as closed-minded as you think.
5) You were sought once, too
Finally, when you feel powerless to ask, remember you were once in their shoes, too. You were once blinded to the truth of God and desperately lost in sin, as well.
That is, until the Son of Man sought you (Luke 19:10).
He left the ninety-nine to rescue you (Luke 15:1-7). He pursued you and won your heart when he was under no obligation to do so.
For some, the Lord sought you through a grandparent who prayed for you daily. For others, the Lord broke into your life through a roommate at university who cared enough to listen. For me, the Lord changed my life through a pastor who not only preached the truth, but also took the time to answer my questions about God.
Think back on your own life. Who, compelled by God’s pursuit of them, made a commitment to pursue you in love? Who, moved by God’s heart for the lost, reached out to your lost soul?
Do you realize they might have been nervous, too?
When you get nervous about intentionally seeking out your friends and family, remember the Lord himself sought you first.
This week, ask
So this week, when you see that non-Christian friend, go ahead and ask. Don't overdo it. Don't make it more pressure-filled than it has to be. Just see if they would ever want to open up the Bible with you. Tell them how it has changed your life. And tell them if they hate it, you'll never make them do it again.
Seek them out. Invite them in. And when your palms get sweaty, go ahead and ask.