How believers talk about the faith to unbelievers, those of faith who have differing interpretations of the faith, or those estranged from the faith has always been a challenge for the Christians. Does one pursue persuasion and reason or attack and ridicule?
Unfortunately, the aggressive approach seems to win out more often in contemporary society. Apologetics (defense of the faith) very easily becomes polemics (disputation about the faith) in the marketplace of ideas.
Much of this is motivated by fear. We fear that which is different from ourselves. We fear that which calls into question our established habits and norms. We also may be afraid that we will be proven wrong or made to look foolish.
We see this when a “prayer breakfast” becomes an occasion to attack those who are different from ourselves. A speaker finds it is much easier to stand on a platform and pontificate than to acknowledge the “other” as a real person who was created in the image of God and deserves dialogue rather than diatribe.
In Colossians, we read these words: "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (4:5-6, NIV)
What a great word for helping "outsiders" become "insiders." We are encouraged to exercise grace in our conversation. We are not expected to deny our beliefs but to present them with clarity (“seasoned with salt”). We are to enter into dialogue with everyone who desires a conversation. And this applies to those who are not of the faith. How much more should we provide the same respect to those who share our commitment to Christ?
The believer is challenged to converse with others in the same way that Christ did—with love and compassion. If we did this, perhaps more “outsiders” would become “insiders” and those of us who are “insiders” could learn to live with one another.