It is not what we believe that is of the greatest concern. You can attend all the courses in the world to become proficient at what you believe but if you cannot use the Koran to reach a Muslim or if you do not know that the Buddhist holds to values such as purity of heart, compassion, charity and humility very similar to Christianity then we are going to struggle to reach them. It is not what you know that is everything it is also what ‘they’ know. You need to build a bridge for them to walk towards you.
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ (Matthew 3 v 1-2)
John the Baptist began to preach at a time when the Roman kingdom was all over them. The thought that the prophesied kingdom of David would come again was fading. ‘Will we ever see the kingdom?’ John the Baptist comes and says ‘Yes, it is near.’
But what kind of kingdom is coming?
More to the point will they receive it?
Matthew’s gospel will tell us that the generation of Jesus missed it.
So a similar but hidden question is now posed throughout his gospel, will the readers of this gospel miss the kingdom again?
Matthew will use the phrase 33 times. He prefers to use it rather than the other gospels use of ‘Kingdom of God’.
If he had not used ‘Kingdom of heaven’ his Jewish audience would have turned away instantly for they would not even write the name for God such was their honour of His name.
Matthew knew his audience.
We must know not only what we are talking about but who we are talking to.
Know the context of people’s lives.
Today when you are with people who do not know Christ, try and find out what they do believe. What values do they hold dear? What inspires them? What is the foundation of their life?
Maybe knowing them will mean you use different vocabulary which may give them a better chance to hear what you have to say.