Christmastime is upon us. In a few short days, many of us will find ourselves in a home filled with family members and friends, some of whom we see often, and some of whom we see rather seldom. It will be a time of reunion, reconciliation, catching up, and sharing stories. In many cases, it will provide multiple opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel before the people we care most about.
But precisely because we care most about them, it can often be difficult to have those conversations. We still may fear our family members’ evaluation of us, especially if they’re our parents. We don’t enjoy being thought of as strange, naïve, or narrow-minded by those whom we care most about. Maybe the last time we tried evangelizing them it didn’t go so well, and we don’t want to strike any raw nerves. It could even be that our pride and self-focus has dampened our affections for Christ’s glory and our love for our lost family members.
But sometimes the problem is just that it’s hard to start the conversation. Now, in some cases, the theme of the Christmas will provide some natural opportunities to speak about “the Reason for the season.” Praise God for those times. Pray for more of them. And take them when they come! Oftentimes, though, our unbelieving friends and family members who know that we’re Christians are looking for every opportunity not to take the conversation in that direction. And so if it’s going to get there, we have to steer it that way. And I can testify from experience that Christians can wind up squandering opportunities to move a conversation toward Christ and His Gospel simply because they don’t know how to make that move without being too abrupt, tactless, or cheesy.
In my attempts to gracefully steer a conversation toward the Gospel, I’ve found that it is helpful to listen for key themes. Some have conceptualized the history of redemption as forming around the four key themes of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. As I’ve done some reflecting on these categories, I discovered that many of our life experiences can be viewed through the lens of these themes as well. Therefore, listening for these themes in a conversation with an unbelieving friend or relative can provide a way to naturally transition the conversation to the Gospel. Think through them with me.