I find that followers of Jesus in The Urantia Book are most EAGER to talk about Jesus, about the Gospel of the Kingdom, about spiritual matters. But it is my experience that it is not always easy to have those conversations. If ever there was a time to be talking about matters of spirituality and religion and morals...it seems to me that that time is now. And so, it is with great interest that I read this article called: It's Getting Harder to Talk About God by Jonathan Merritt. We'll be blogging below, using Urantia Book teachings as always, but here are a few pertinent paragraphs from the article - which I highly recommend to you.
"More than 70 percent of Americans identify as Christian, but you wouldn't know it from listening to them. An overwhelming majority of people say that they don't feel comfortable speaking about faith, most of the time.
"By this I mean that spiritual conversations, once a natural part of each day for me, suddenly became a struggle. Whether I spoke to a stranger or a friend, the exchange flowed freely so long as I stuck to small talk. But conversations stalled out the moment the subject turned spiritual.
"Five years ago, I moved from the Bible Belt to New York City and ran headfirst into an unexpected language barrier. Sure, I could still speak English as well as I always had. But I could no longer "speak God."
Click to read the entire article
Having spiritual conversations should not be such a problem as it seems in the article, although I understand the author's plight. When one self-identifies as a "Christian," one is assumed to speak a certain language; that language contains buzzwords that people have been accustomed to hearing from religious people - words like sin, salvation, born-again, repentance, hell, Jesus as sacrifice... even Jesus has become a buzzword that can present a problem. It's a shame that the wonderful name of Jesus can be seen as an obstacle, isn't it? But if you have tried to share him and failed, you may know what I mean.
Add to that the reality that our civilizations and cultures have become far more diverse than they once were, so that now we might be ministering to a Muslim, a Buddhist, or one of the Nones - (those who are "spiritual-not religious"). America is no longer a homogenous representation of Christianity. But maybe that's a good thing because Urantia Book teachings about God, about spiritual reality - and even about Jesus are meant to be relevant to any and all mortals.
We don't need a "church" language to connect on a deep spiritual level. In fact, it may be that many people are just not into church...and it could be that these are the very ones you can connect with
A new language
The teachings of The Urantia Book open a whole new language that we can use - the language of the all-inclusive Kingdom of heaven. This is a language of love - a Father's love. It's the language of sincere concern, of empathy, of living faith, of fraternal fellowship (brotherhood), of real and meaningful connection with God. And you may find, in your listening, that for some of those souls fed up with churches and rules, The Urantia Book's teachings about personal spiritual experience shines! True spiritual lberty! How's that for a balm for a church-weary seeker? We even have Urantia Book teachings that help us reframe being "born-again" into something that anyone can experience, rather than it being an exclusively Christian term.
No need to re-invent the wheel here. The one thing that Urantia Book readers have that most other spiritually-minded people do not have, is the new and startling accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus. Over more than 700 pages, we see the Master at work; nowhere else is this information available! His was a mission to bring all of God's children into one fold, and in the study of his life, we find abundant clues as to how HE did it. He used a definite technique when talking with people.
For example, to the young man who was afraid, he asked for help. To the inkeeper in Corinth, he phrased his advice in terms that she would be familiar with. Likewise, the building contractor, and others. All of these stories of personal work in Corinth are beautiful examples of how Jesus approached people as they were, and where they were. In the link I just gave you, we read of the Master's technique, as here:
132:4.2 Always the burden of his message was: the fact of the heavenly Father's love and the truth of his mercy, coupled with the good news that man is a faith-son of this same God of love. Jesus' usual technique of social contact was to draw people out and into talking with him by asking them questions. The interview would usually begin by his asking them questions and end by their asking him questions. He was equally adept in teaching by either asking or answering questions. As a rule, to those he taught the most, he said the least. Those who derived most benefit from his personal ministry were overburdened, anxious, and dejected mortals who gained much relief because of the opportunity to unburden their souls to a sympathetic and understanding listener, and he was all that and more. And when these maladjusted human beings had told Jesus about their troubles, always was he able to offer practical and immediately helpful suggestions looking toward the correction of their real difficulties, albeit he did not neglect to speak words of present comfort and immediate consolation. And invariably would he tell these distressed mortals about the love of God and impart the information, by various and sundry methods, that they were the children of this loving Father in heaven.
"[Jesus] utilized each [encounter] as an opportunity for imparting some thought of spiritual ennoblement by well-chosen words or by some obliging service. Jesus was very fond of doing things—even little things—for all sorts of people."
One of the most important things we can do in learning how to approach people is to be SINCERE; to have a sincere interest in the person standing there talking with you - no matter who it is. We want to share, we want to help, but in order to do that, we have to really get to know that one person and their spiritual needs. We can't assume that we know what they need. That was the one thing I noticed that was missing from the article I cite above. This is not to say that the author was not sincerely interested in people, but the subject did not arise in his article as a key element in engaging someone in spiritual dialogue. We know from Urantia Book teachings that our approach has to be not only sincere, but gracious, generous, and loving.
Said Jesus: "Become interested in your fellows; learn how to love them and watch for the opportunity to do something for them which you are sure they want done,"
I like to make sure that - even if I don't connect on a spiritual level with someone - I leave every person better than when I found them - happier, at the very least. Being of service in some way is the gateway to that. Even a sincere smile with a straight-on look in the eyes can do wonders for someone. And sometimes, it is all you may have time to do! Smile at them as if you're smiling at their Thought Adjuster...because you ARE!
And this is also a great technique for us when we wish to share God with others - be friendly! Your sincerity can lift the resonance of any situation. And make the encounter about THEM, not you, or any agenda or expectation you may have. In fellowshipping people you are sharing your self - not a dogma.
We can only give what we already have
BUT - We cannot give away to anyone what we do not possess. To share the beauties of the Kingdom with others, we have to have had an experience of those beauties for ourselves. How is our spiritual life? Do we understand fully the language of the Kingdom? The gospel of the Kingdom? Are we changed because of it? Do we have solid experience to share with others, depending upon what we discern as their need?
Relationship is the most important thing that we do here. And all relationships are ends in themselves - even the briefest ones. Of course, our first and primary relationship is the one that we have with God. Our heavenly Father is our primary "other." From that relationship, where we increasingly discern the will of the Father, we approach our world as he approaches his creation - with love.
Almost all human ills can be cured with spiritual means. And I would guess that most people suffer in some degreee from a host of human ills: restlessness, fear, worry, anxiety, resentment, depression, anger, apathy. And if we talk to someone long enough - if we LISTEN long enough - we will begin to really get to know them and the struggles they are going through. This is the technique that Jesus used; he listened and he asked questions.
Everyone loves personal stories, and the kingdom dweller, born of the Spirit, may have those personal stories that will inspire and uplift someone else, depending on their receptivity. Don't be afraid to share those stories, if appropriate, even if they may have some pain associated with them. Sharing stories of how God helped you to transcend something difficult in your life can give your listener ideas and hope for themselves, too.
This is so much more attractive than dogma - isn't it?
In the end, it is not any particular religion or theology that will help us have those spiritual conversations that we so long to have - it is the impulse of LOVE - the love that you yourself have experienced from God that you feel you must share.
Ask God to provide an opportunity for you - ask him to go before you and bring across your path those who you might help today. If we are willing and if we have the sincere desire to minister, I can almost guarantee that he will honor your request.
Where to start
For more superb advice about how Jesus shared spiritual truth to others, please see THIS LINK
And THIS LINK is actually more like a guidebook for making your spiritual conversations really, really meaningful. It's worth printing out and keeping handy!
The Urantia Book tells us that the study of the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it is the most valuable study we can do - it is the most valuable knowledge we can have. Jesus,in his matchless life of love and service, shows the way so that we may open the door to many fruitful conversations about God.