Our First Episode!
We are incredibly excited to have you join us for Ask Away’s very first episode! Today we will be discussing the heart behind the show and tackling matters of interacting with people who hold to an atheistic and naturalistic worldview.
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Michael Davis: Hello everyone, and welcome to our first episode of Ask Away with Vince and Jo Vitale. I am your host, Michael Davis. We are incredibly excited to have you join us today at our studios in Atlanta, Georgia. We're going to dive right into it. Our very first question is actually not submitted by anyone other than yours truly. There are some perks to being the host, only a couple, but there are a couple perks. Vince, I'm going to direct this to you first. Why Ask Away? What is the heart behind the show, and what do you hope our listeners will gain from tuning in?
Vince Vitale: I really want people to come to see asking questions as not a sign of lack of faith, but as actually part of our worship. I think that's really, really significant for the health of the church moving forward. This was really significant in my own life. When I showed up, as both of you guys know, when I showed up at a college, I didn't think much of Christianity. I thought it was for people who didn't think hard enough. I had lots of questions. I was actually reading through the Bible. I was trying to disprove it. I was crossing things out. I was adding things. I'd write a BS in the margin when I disagreed, and unfortunately, not to denote passages for Bible study.
That's where I started, but I kept reading. I started to fall in love without even realizing it with the person of Jesus, and then I got through the gospels. I got to the Acts of the Apostles, and I found all these words I didn't expect. Words like reasoning and convincing and persuading. I thought, "Wait a minute, I thought this faith was asking me to take a blind leap of faith, but actually it's asking me to love God with my mind and to take the questions and objections I have seriously and, it's saying that that will actually lead me in the direction of God."
I'm so grateful to have found friends, in my case, teammates who were on my soccer team at the time who were really patient with me and didn't make me feel bad about my questions, but said, "Hey, no question's off limits." They said, "Our God's big enough to deal with your questions." They had that confidence. They weren't intimidated by my questions. In my case, my mind was sort of the guardian of my heart. Dealing with some of those questions, it unlocked something and it gave God a clear path to speak directly to my heart.
Michael Davis: Nice. That's great. Jo, I'm going to nuance the same question a little bit. What do you think, or what do you hope that the believer will get from Ask Away, not just for the skeptic, but for those who want to reach their lost friends and family members and neighbors? What do you hope they'll get from this show?
Jo Vitale: I really hope that they're going to have more confidence in answering questions. Just, there are so many questions out there. Sometimes it can feel completely overwhelming, especially if it's one you've never thought of before. Maybe you're the only Christian in your group of friends. Maybe people think you're ridiculous or crazy for believing the things that you believe, and sometimes you can just feel a bit panicked in these moments. Think, "What could I possibly say?" What I would love is if this show would just be very practical, of us as thinking through, "Hey, how might you answer this in a simple but compelling way? How might you show that actually there's more to the Christian faith than people would think?"
I know that it was really important for me as a teenager growing up within the church, but in a secular environment in the UK to have a space where I could actually take my hard questions. I was the only Christian in my year in school, and then I went to study theology at university but in a secular place, and I remember tanning up to my first lecture series on the historical Jesus given by someone who definitely didn't really believe Jesus was historical at all. He always used to say, "Well, you've got to take everything with a pinch of salt." I remember sitting there disagreeing with him, but not really knowing what to say.
Actually, what made the difference for me was having Christians that I could go to and say, "Hey, I'm wrestling with these questions. I don't know what to do. This is maybe even shaking me sometimes." They didn't look at me like I was crazy or like I was a heretic for having those questions. But actually, they got around me, they thought deeply about them and we'd love for this show to be doing the same thing for people.
Vince Vitale: Yeah, and I think Jo and I, we have quite different stories in that sense. I grew up as a skeptic, and Jo as a pastor's kid. But, this idea of questioning actually leading to God and not away from God, that's similar in both of our stories. You know, that makes sense, because that's how you get to know anyone. If you want to get to know someone as a friend, you ask good sometimes hard questions about them and you pursue the answers. That's actually how you get to know someone.
I hope this is a place, RZIM is certainly a ministry where we receive every question, any question as a gift. I think there's something really theological about that as well, because the answer to any question is something that's true, and all truth is grounded in God. Whatever your question is, the answer to it is something true, and I believe as a Christian that that's grounded in God. If you will give me the gift of asking your question that gives me the opportunity to share something about who god is and what God has done.
Jo Vitale: Is that what you're hoping for from this show as well?
Michael Davis: I am. I think that one of the things that a lot of Christians in in the western church are afraid of are those tough questions. What we want to do with this show, and I think that Vince and Jo, I'm incredibly excited that you guys are going to be doing this, is the fact that we're standing on the shoulders of giants. Apologetics has been done for the last 2,000 years. I forget who said this, but we really are in the golden age of apologetics right now.
Science is not disproving God. Science is proving that God exists. Everything from the complexity of DNA to the fact that the universe has a beginning, we just want to be able to be a resource for believers to be able to say, "I can be bold and I can reach out to my neighbors because I do have the answers." If I don't understand what that answer or that question is, I can research it and I can tune in. No, I'm incredibly excited to be doing this with you guys.
Jo Vitale: Cool.
Michael Davis: Excellent. Now, we are going to go into the first submitted question. These next couple questions really are kind of not tackling questions that atheists have, but more about interacting with atheists or people with a secular worldview. Okay, this first question goes to you, Jo. Given the number of Americans who identify as atheist has doubled in the last several years, what can you attribute this increase to and how do we as believers, as the church, how do we combat this?
Jo Vitale: I think what it is, is there's no one reason. I think it's the convergence of a lot of different kind of historical threads coming together at a unique time in history. I think a few different things I would point to, one would be what you've just spoken to actually, which is science. This sort of modern mindset saying science has all the answers, we no longer need God to explain all the gaps that we have in our knowledge. In fact, science and God are enemies, and therefore we look to science as the kind of solid ground we stand on rather than planting our feet in the air with faith.
I think, ironically, I also see the counter perspective to this coming in, which is a kind of postmodern view, which says actually, we can't explain everything by science. We have a multicultural society and I think with the internet and all the, you know, we have more access than ever to all these different beliefs out there. We kind of have this melting pot of ideas where people say, "Actually we can't even get our hands on what is true and what isn't, so let's just kind of pick your own truth." You know, this is my truth, tell me yours. It's true for you, it's not true for me, but that's fine. Live your own truth, whatever. It's anything goes.
I think the great sin of our culture is actually claiming to know the truth. Yeah, I think it was a Ravi umass student from Harvard who said, "I can believe anything I want as long as I didn't believe it's true." I think that's a piece of it. I think maybe another big strand that I see has been at the sexual revolution as well. The whole language of my body, my rights. Who has the right to judge me to tell me how to live my life? I think God is seen as the enemy of that kind of freedom. He's seen as the killjoy, He wants to ruin your fun. I think those are the trends that I see coming together.
I think one way to combat this is particularly when it comes to this idea of lots of different versions of truth, but no one truth, I would say is actually to kind of expose people to whether that's a livable truth or not. I think their test of any belief or worldview is whether it works in real life, and I'm not sure that one actually holds up with everyday experience. It was really interesting going to UC Berkeley's campus recently, and I love the students there because they were so passionate about social justice. They're all behind a million causes, and it was kind of cool to see that in them.
But, at the same time, most of them that I met and spoke to were relativists, they didn't believe in right and wrong. You had these two things that were key to who they were, and yet they were completely contradictory. These were people who are saying they don't believe in right and wrong, but they're committed to putting to right the world's wrongs. Kind of helping them to work through, "Hey, what you're saying actually doesn't make sense. You need a different way of thinking. You need a different framework to explain why you care so passionately about a justice that you can't ground on anything."
Vince Vitale: Yeah, I remember you speaking to a PhD student in physics at Berkeley, and like you were saying Michael, how science is pointing to God so strongly and not away from God. This was a PhD student in physics, knew his science backwards and forwards, could have talked us around in circles on many things. Jo started to ask him just the most basic questions about why he trusts science in the first place. Why would it even be the case that we would have a regular universe that you could test scientifically? Why would it even be the case that we would have a universe which was designed so well that it could produce life? He hadn't even thought of these questions.
It's amazing how someone can be so well thought through in one area, but actually not thought through in terms of some of the deepest questions of life. I think those strands that Jo brought together are absolutely correct, and we're seeing it at a younger and younger age that many are walking away from the faith. At RZIM, we're doing more and more with youth. Some of the statistics suggest that as many as 70% of Christian high schoolers are no longer active in their faith by the time they graduate college, and that is just an absolutely devastating statistic. That is just something that has to change, and we see it as we travel around on the road.
About a month and a half ago, we were up at a church in Ohio, and the first young woman to come down after I had preached on the Sunday was a freshman in college, and she showed up as a Christian, had grown up in that church with her boyfriend, also a Christian, and they decided they would take a comparative religions class. The professor opened the whole course with this line. He said, "Everything you have been taught is a lie." He said, "The ideas about God you've been taught are a myth and the Bible is a false book."
That was the first line that they heard from their professor, the person that they're supposed to learn from, and their faith began to spiral. Actually, I saw this young woman on a Sunday, her boyfriend had taken his life on the Thursday before that Sunday. You know, people say ideas don't have consequences, it's just not that big of a deal. You can believe what you believe. I'll believe what I believe, let's not really spend too much time trying to debate it or seeing what's actually true. That is not the case. Ideas have consequences. I wish I could have spoken to that professor and traced that line for him to exactly what the consequences of his words were.
Michael Davis: Vince, that is an extremely sobering story that really, really drives home the truth that ideas do have consequences. I'm gonna shift this question a bit. Jo, do you believe that the drop in people who identify as Christians and the increase of people who identify as atheists, do you think this might also include the dying off of cultural Christianity in the United States? This happened many decades ago in Europe, but it is happening rapidly in the United States right now. Do you see the fact that being labeled a Christian is no longer necessary in our culture as a factor in these figures?
Jo Vitale: Yeah, I mean, I think there are pros and cons to it. On the one hand, I think it's absolutely true that the death of kind of cultural Christianity, I think sometimes something can die a while back but people don't realize it's died for several decades afterwards, so I think often that happens academically, the ideas within the academy change and then gradually the philosophy and the thinking trickles down and you see the change about 50 years later. A lot of this is coming out of, you know, ideas that happened one century, two centuries ago. But, it just takes a long time for culture to shift. I think we're finally seeing that.
I mean, obviously, it's been like that in Europe for longer, but you're certainly seeing it over here as well these days. I think certainly that gives people a greater freedom to say that atheists, people feel that autonomy to make more decisions about faith. I think it's no longer the case that you stick with the faith you're born into even. Which, in some ways is a good thing, though. I think it brings us back to the place of saying, "Hey, faith isn't just something that we should inherit, or just, swallow whole because that's what our parents said."
Actually, every one of us is in a place where we have to make a decision about what we do and don't believe in. Christianity says that as well, that you can't just coast off it. But actually, it's about a personal relationship and a decision that we've made as to whether we want to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. I think that's an important piece of it. In some ways you might say cultural Christianity can be damaging as well. People assume a lot of things are Christian that aren't because they kind of get sucked into the culture alongside of it. People often point to things and say, "Well, that's a Christian belief because those people call themselves Christians." We all know a lot of things are done in the name of Christianity that Jesus Christ himself wouldn't stand by.
Michael Davis: Absolutely.
Jo Vitale: In some ways, even though it's hard in the UK to be a Christian, it actually means something. It always means something when you meet someone who says they're a Christian, because actually, they're going against the culture. They've had to be counter cultural. In some ways, it's easier to share the faith in the UK because it's a clear starting point where people are. The lines are more obviously drawn, and so you actually know how to have the conversation. Whereas, sometimes I think the struggle for us is when we're in a culture that still calls itself Christian, a lot of people say I'm a Christian, but that doesn't mean anything in their own lives. It's just a label they've stuck on it and are still holding up.
Michael Davis: Sure, yeah.
Vince Vitale: I grew up Italian American, New Jersey, so therefore Christian, and that meant half my town was Catholic and half was Jewish. The fact that I was Catholic meant I wasn't Jewish, and for many people, the fact that you were Jewish meant that you weren't Catholic. Now of course, they're very sincere and devoted believers within each of those religious traditions. But, that can certainly be the case.
Often times as you move further and further away from a culture that understands something of the Christian message, your starting point is just further back as well. People sometimes have such, I did even, such misconceptions about the God that we're even asking them to take seriously and to trust. I probably thought of God a lot more like Santa Claus, you know, pretty distant, not that interested, maybe comes by once a year, doesn't stay to chat. If I'm good, then I'm going to get some good gifts, but if not, then I'm in trouble.
I think, well, you know what? If you're not interested in that God, well good. You shouldn't be interested in that God. But, that is nothing like the person of Jesus. It's nothing like the person that I've fallen in love with and that I live with day to day. That's what we want to take questions so seriously as part of this program. If we see questions as an open door to share something about who God really is, then we can be presenting people with the person of Jesus who is so attractive and not a conception of God that's nothing like the God of Christianity.
Michael Davis: Absolutely. Great answers guys, thank you. The next question, we're going to go back to you, Vince. This is actually a question that I've faced in my witnessing encounters, is that we have, a lot of believers have this concept that every atheist is broken, who's unhappy, who's miserable, and they just don't understand why. This is not the case. It wasn't necessarily the case for me. In a sense, they're broken, but they have filled our brokenness with things that have given them happiness. The question is, do you have a favorite or recommended approach to the happy/satisfied atheist?
Vince Vitale: Yeah, I think you're right, Michael. We need to recognize that some people have at least happiness in some respects in their lives. If someone does, I want to say great, and I think that's a gift from God, and how generous is God that He's given that to you even if you're not in relationship with Him. But, I also want to say, it was C.S. Lewis who said, "If happiness is all that I was after, then a good bottle of port would do the trick." Right? His point, you may not agree with him, but his point is that life is not just about happiness. Like, that's great that you're happy. Who are you grateful to for that?
But, there are other questions, too. Are you forgiven? Does your life have purpose? Do you have peacefulness in your life? What do your relationships look like? Are you confident in where you've come from and where you're headed? There are other big questions to ask. One other thing that always comes to mind for me when you talk about happiness as a sort of philosophy of life, I actually think it's an incredibly exclusive philosophy of life. Sometimes Christianity is objected to because people say that's exclusive. You're telling other people that they're wrong or other people are in places where they don't have the opportunity to believe that.
But, I actually think happiness as a way of life is an incredibly exclusive worldview. There's so many people around the world who are not in their present circumstances in position to be happy. Actually, for every one of us, even if you're happy right now, at some point you're going to get to a point where you're not happy, and for good reason. If that's what we're relying on, on our happiness of life, I think it's way too exclusive. I want a philosophy of life which is way more inclusive than that.
Jo Vitale: I also think, I mean, I hear what you're saying, that there isn't that a sense in which, gosh, everyone's miserable out there.
Michael Davis: Right.
Jo Vitale: But, I do think there's a bit of a myth about being a satisfied, happy person. Someone was telling me that the day that they don't want to become a Christian because it would make them boring. I get the idea that, you know, it would just ruin all their fun. But actually, when we started unpacking what this person's life was like and the things that they do and they're saying things like, you know, "I don't want to give up sex before marriage. That sounds terrible." But then we talked about how do they feel after they've had a Tinder hookup, for example, and the comment from this test was actually, "I feel rubbish about myself. It just makes me feel completely useless and worthless."
Often, we put our happiness in things that, we say, "Oh, this is making me really happy," but actually, as we were speaking, the fact this person lived without purpose and meaning and didn't have something bigger than themselves and a story beyond themselves was really leading to a kind of depression. I think maybe it's just that people need to see a better story. People need to see that actually, yeah, that there's good things. We can say actually that there are good things in the life of people who aren't Christians, the Bible talks about the sun shining on the righteous and the unrighteous. We can all have good things in our lives, but is there something bigger than that?
I love what C.S. Lewis, and we've been quoting him a bit already, classic Christian apologist, but when he talks about, it's like children who are playing with mud pies in the slums because they can't imagine the idea of a holiday by the sea. I think for us as Christians, in order to appeal to those who think that the mud pies are great, we need to be living lives that show that holidays by the sea are actually possible, and maybe that could even be a place where you could live. Like, are we telling a better story? Are we living with hope? Do we have hopeful lives?
I think especially in the last year, people have been struggling with the way the world is and feeling so depressed. We've had people coming to us with questions, friends who we never thought would ask about Christianity, we've been trying to talk to them for years and they never asked. Suddenly, everything's feeling a bit unstable, and actually a lot of people are quite depressed. They're looking for, where can I find any kind of hope to hold onto, and we have a chance to be people who live with hope and with something that is beyond needing to find joy and satisfaction in ourselves and in each other. It's rooted in something more stable.
Vince Vitale: Yeah, when you see the people that come up to us after we speak, you wind up thinking there are a lot more distracted atheists out there than happy atheists, I think. I always remember, there's this one commercial I saw a while back, and it depicted a baby being born and then the baby sort of flew through the air for 30 seconds, and you saw the whole life unfold until this person became a young adult and then a mature adult and then an old man. Then, on the way down, then this person crashes into a grave dead, and then the screen goes black and the words that come across the screen are, "Life is short, play more XBox."
It's really funny and it's also really devastating. I found myself thinking like, "Actually, that's reality. All of life is headed, from an atheistic perspective towards death and injustice, and is that the best we've got?" Just like, distract ourselves, spend more time on Facebook and more time playing XBox because there's nothing else we can do? I just think, "Wow, Christianity has such a better hope to offer." Just a last thing that I'm thinking on this idea of happiness as a way of life. You know, I'm so thankful that that wasn't Jesus's philosophy of life.
Michael Davis: Yeah.
Vince Vitale: Because, if what He was after primarily and solely was happiness, He never would've came. The garden the night before He died. My heart is sorrowful, even to death. Those are not the words of happiness.
Michael Davis: Right.
Vince Vitale: Even if there was deep purposefulness in what He was doing, He was willing to say no to that philosophy of life because He was willing to say yes to everyone else.
Jo Vitale: Michael, were you are happy atheist?
Michael Davis: That's actually, so, for those of you guys don't know who I am, I became a believer a few years ago. But, I think that's a good question. From a worldly perspective, I had a good job, doing fun things, and even before that, back before I settled down is the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle. I had everything that the world said that I should have and that I should find fulfillment and happiness with.
One of the things, and we talked a little bit about this earlier today, is that I always assumed that the hollowness and the purposelessness that I had was something to do with my current experience. I would say things like, "The reason why I can't be happy with my job is the fact that humans weren't meant to live a 9:00 to 5:00 lifestyle. We're supposed to be hunter gatherers or something like that, and that's the reason why I can't be happy."
Jo Vitale: Right.
Michael Davis: But then, the realization that there are people who live that life and it is a short miserable life and they don't find purpose in that as well. I didn't understand that the brokenness that I had was put there because it would ultimately would point me to a need for a relationship with God through Christ. It's humbling to be able to see the work of God in putting this different experiences and the people in my life that would pour into me and develop the relationships that would allow me to be able to see, no, nothing in me personally could help me find the purpose and the happiness. Though, like I said, every day from waking up in the morning to go to sleep, things weren't bad.
Vince Vitale: Sure.
Michael Davis: But, alone at night when faced with just the bleakness of what a reality from, like a nihilistic, just a purposeless, nothing, that we are specks of dust in an infinite universe that means absolutely nothing. It's like, what's the point? I think that that's a really good point, Jo and Vince.
Okay, here we go. This next question is a from Terry and this is actually—we're going to go to you again, Vince to answer this first. "Most of my close friends are atheists." Well, first of all Terry, awesome that you've got the opportunity to speak into the lives of atheists.
Vince Vitale: Here, here. I was going to say the same thing. Well done, Terry.
Michael Davis: Absolutely. We also salute you with the fact that that you care enough about them. "The subject of Christianity simply doesn't interest them. How do you broach the subject, or should I even try?" Well, first of all, we're going to say no to that second part of that question. Yes, you should try. But, go ahead, Vince.
Jo Vitale: It's not a no or a yes. Yes, he should try.
Michael Davis: Yes, he should try, yes. But, how should Terry broach the subject where they're atheist friends about God?
Vince Vitale: Thanks for such an honest question. Really appreciate that question. Like Michael said, the relationships you have in your life and caring for them, really, really grateful. I go back in parts to misconceptions. Ask your friends, find ways to ask your friends what they understand Christianity to be. Because, I have to believe that if God created them, He created them in such a way that He would set aside the deepest longings of their heart. Do they desire love in their life? Do they desire love in their life that's from someone who loves them unconditionally and encourages them, and who will never will leave them and who sees value in in them? Surely, the answer is yes. Do they desire purpose and good plans for their life? Surely, the answer is yes. Do they desire joy, peace, patience, kindness, the fruits of the spirit in their life?
Surely, the answer must be yes, and I think that that is a form of them desiring God, even though they haven't been able to put those things to the name God. Ask the questions that help you figure out what they understand Christianity to be. That, I think, is the key thing, question-asking. Sometimes, I think we're really bad as question askers. They tend to be, how you're doing? Fine. How was your vacation? Fine. Did you do anything this weekend? No. Could you come up with some really great questions to ask your friends? Just ones that are in the middle ground of meaningful conversation.
I think sometimes we find it so difficult to get from shooting the breeze to Jesus because we spend almost all of our time just shooting the breeze. If we would spend more time in just meaningful conversations, not even explicitly spiritual conversations, I find Jesus finds His way into those conversations quite naturally. I like having some really just good questions. Having good questions, I think it's just a matter of caring for the people, for your friends like you do. I love the question, what causes 80% of your stress in life? First time I ask that if someone, they said, "People like you asking me questions like that." I said, "What about the other 20%?" Then we had a great conversation.
I love asking people, have you ever had an experience that has made you think there might be a god? If you give people a few seconds to deal with that question, because people aren't used to real questions, people will tell you the most amazing stories and you'll think to yourself, "Wow, you've had that experience and you're telling me you're an atheist?" You can almost see the gears starting to turn in their heads like, "Well, I did have that experience and I haven't thought about that in years. I claim to be an atheist. Maybe there's a mismatch between these two things." I think, be a great question asker. Write questions down, pray about it, say, "God, would you give me a question," and the next time I see each one of these friends, it's amazing the conversations that will come out of that.
Jo Vitale: I think the thing that's great about asking those meaningful questions is that once you do, people really start sharing their stories in a deeper way. That gives you an amazing opportunity, because if people are really sharing vulnerably about their lives, about what's going on, then you can start finding connections between what their story is and where they're at and what your story is. I think sometimes we feel this crazy pressure of, "Oh, I need to somehow work in the full spiritual laws, and get straight away to the cross see whether there's a connection or not."
Or, maybe we think, "Well, I need to somehow work in my three point testimony of the beginning, the middle and end. There was the before Christ and the Christ came, and then after Christ, this is difference." But actually, this is kind of misunderstanding what a testimony is. Right? We don't just have one testimony. We have so many testimonies of what God has done in our lives. If you really dig deep into someone else's story by asking those good questions, then you can hear what's going on in their life. Say they're talking about stress or they're talking about anxiety. Then you can say, "Wow, I have a testimony and story of what God has done in my life in this area."
Then you have an opportunity to talk about how you used to struggle with these things, but the piece that Christ has brought, that is a testimony and that's a way to talk about God that doesn't feel like, oh, this is irrelevant to the conversation or it's a huge gear shift in this awkward crunch, but actually it's kind of a natural flow in a way into talking about God. Dig deep into relationship. The better conversations and questions you're asking, just the deeper you're going to go and the more naturally Christ is going to find Himself in those conversations.
Vince Vitale: Yeah, that's great, and just one other thing I would say. Be a great question asker, but also think about the questions that people ask you all of the time. If you're listening right now, if you're a church-going Christian, the question, how was your weekend, is an absolute gift if you're a church-going Christian. If you encountered God in the context of a church service on a Sunday, and so often people ask me that question, and I just say, "Not bad, thanks."
You know, I could say, "Actually, it was great. Saturday, I was doing stuff around the house. Sunday was great. We went to church in the morning. We always do that as a family. Do you ever go to church?" "No, I never go to church, nope." "I never used to either, but a friend invited us about five years ago. We went along totally surprised by what we found, and we found there a community of love and support that we've never known before. We'd love to have you join us sometime." That's not that weird.
Michael Davis: No.
Vince Vitale: In fact, it's just a more honest answer to the question. If somebody asks me how my weekend was and I had a great time, a meaningful time at church, and I just say, "Not bad, thanks," it's not even really an honest answer. What I've said the second attempt there is actually an honest answer and it's not weird, and if we just give some thought into being prepared, both for the questions we want to ask but also for the questions that we know full well people are going to ask us all the time, then we're in position to just have meaningful conversations with people, and Jesus will make His way into those conversations.
Michael Davis: Absolutely. I think I'd like to add also, and I think you touched upon it also, is that we need to develop relationships that can bear the weight of truth. You don't need to share the gospel every single time you speak to a nonbeliever. The fact that you can be salt and light, and that you can reflect the love of Christ by helping them with changing their oil. My next door neighbor, the man who really discipled me, unbeknownst to me for almost seven years or five years, was a godly man, loved the Lord.
Every few months, I would be the one that would ask him a question about, "Well, if your God was so loving, why would he blank," or whatever. But, he was just very, very patient with me. In our culture, we want instant gratification. But, if we look back at our own lives, me especially but I know for you guys as well, we did not respond to the gospel the first time we heard it.
Vince Vitale: Yep.
Jo Vitale: Yeah.
Michael Davis: I know this is the interactions that you guys are dealing with all the time when you guys are on campuses or in your open forums, but it's the same thing that every believer has to understand, is that the things of the spirit require the spirit. We have to understand that, let God work. We don't save anyone. We are the means in which God bring people to Himself, but let's just be patient. It's an amazing gift that we are called to be a part of it.
Vince Vitale: That's just what I was going to say, what a gift it is. God, He doesn't need us to share Him with people, and yet He chooses to involve us in that most amazing project of His, of loving every single person and of inviting every person into relationship with Himself. If you are willing to be used by God for that, He will use you. I had a student two years ago, he became a Christian when he got invited to church.
The Christian who invited him overslept, never turned up. He poked his head in the back of church, sat on a on a seat right inside the back door, heard a sermon from John 15, was pierced to the heart, gave his life to Christ. Can you imagine? You invite someone to church. You oversleep. You call to say you're sorry later in the day, and the person's already become a Christian. But, it's just, God will use you if you're just willing to put yourself forward for Him. It's not about us, it's about Him. You're absolutely right Michael.
Michael Davis: Absolutely. Well guys, we are out of time. Vince, sum everything up for us.
Vince Vitale: Well, we're really excited about your questions. That's what we want this show to be about. We'll have ways that you can submit your questions to us. We want to be answering real people, and we really believe that every single question is an open door to share something about who God is and what He's done. We want to take people's questions really seriously, get into those meaningful conversations.
We don't have to be answer people. Being a Christian is not about having every answer, and thankfully so, because I certainly don't and I don't think it's attractive to anyone to become a Christian if what that means is you need to be an answer person that has an answer to every question. One of the best responses is just to say, "I don't know." People are going to ask you questions. Sometimes you're going to know the answers. Sometimes you're going to say, "I don't know, but you know what? I'd love to look into that for you and I'd love to meet again next week and talk about it." That'll mean more to the person than if you had the answer in the first place.
Then, if we're faithful with this, God will actually at the right time give us the opportunity to actually invite someone to Him. That's that next step. Very often, people don't show up at a party if you don't actually invite them. Sometimes we do that with the Christian faith. We tell people how great we think the Christian faith is and we talk to them about their question, but we never actually give them an invitation to the party that God is throwing. I'm excited for this show to take people's questions seriously, to enter into those meaningful relationships and conversations that that leads to, and then ultimately to make that invitation as a gift to someone.
One of the people this past year that we made that invitation to and they accepted it, and you know, so often it's not the people that you think that will accept that invitation. Only God knows, and you make that invitation and you're surprised with joy as they say yes to it. This guy, he prayed the prayer of accepting Christ, just the raw beautiful prayer of a new believer, and then after he was finished, his first words as a new believer were these. "I have always felt alone and like I had to wear a mask, but now this is the first time in my life that I can take off that mask and be fully myself and fully alive." No theory can do that. No arguments or answers can do that. Only one person can do that. The person of Jesus Christ, and that's who we're going to be focused on in this show.
Michael Davis: That's great. God bless. This is fantastic, it's an honor to be with you guys. Everyone, thank you again for joining us, and don't forget to Ask Away.
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