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The questions have changed, but the needs are the same.
I had visited my local neighborhood Einstein Bagels many times, but I’ll never forget the day I ordered a Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee with my new friend Sam pacing right behind me. For some time now, I had been intentionally getting to know Sam, one of the employees there. He knew I was a Christian.
That day, as I picked up my Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee, Sam posed a tough question to me. Raising his voice so that nearly everybody in Einsteins could hear him, Sam loudly asked me, “You aren’t one of those guys that thinks you’re right and everybody else is wrong and that you have the only way to God, are you?”
There was a definite edge in his voice, and silence hung in the air for a moment as I searched for a reply. In a stroke of lucky brilliance, I responded like Jesus often did when people asked him questions. I answered his question with question: “Why do you ask?”
It turns out that Sam had a cousin who attended a conservative church that beat him over the head every week with a Bible and criticism. His cousin often told him he was going to go to hell because he struggled with alcoholism, didn’t believe in God, and didn’t go to church.
As Sam shared his painful experiences, I suddenly realized that he was not actually asking me an intellectual question. He wasn’t really wondering if Jesus was the only way; instead, he was wondering how I would treat him if he didn’t agree with me or believe what I believed.
For Sam, and many like him these days, tough questions are trust questions.
Over 40 years ago, Paul Little, the national director of evangelism with Intervarsity in 1970, identified seven questions that every non-Christian asks, including questions about …