How do Christians properly interact with people who have different ideas or philosophies? Specifically how do Christians interact with atheists?
For a large portion of my life I have been curious about the interactions between Christians and atheists. It seems like ever since I was young I would especially notice these types of conversations, because both people involved would poorly handle them. Insults will often be used by both people in speaking about the naivety of the other persons system of beliefs. Few things in life are more precious to us than our beliefs and when others ridicule them we often take it personally and get upset. Once we are offended it becomes very difficult to carry on a conversation that will glorify God, and potentially get someone to ask some tough questions about their own life.
The key to a successful conversation, not even necessarily one that results in an atheist getting saved, but one that is respectful and considerate of others views while being firm about what you believe and explaining why you believe it. With any conversation whether it is with a non-believer or a believer, being quick to listen and slow to speak will always help set a foundation for good communication. This good communication can hopefully set the tone for the conversation and allow both parties to voice their opinions and concerns. It is also important to recognize that it is God who works in our hearts and in the hearts of others, this completely removes the pressure to perform and “seal the deal” so to speak. It frees us to just have a conversation.
I believe the problem with how we approach conversations with atheists specifically lies in the way we believe Christianity and not understanding why an atheist is atheist. The typical atheist, I have encountered, is hyper rational and logical about his/her lack of belief in God. The typical Christian, I have encountered, is usually not hyper rational about his/her belief in God but rather is probably more based on existential knowledge gained from having a personal relationship with God. Neither of these is wrong in fact I believe there is a time and place for both, but a conversation with a hype rational non-believer should be significantly different than a conversation with a believer who thinks very practically and emotionally about his/her faith. This does not mean that we are too compromise our beliefs in any way. Standing firm in our beliefs and acknowledging that not everyone thinks the way we think are absolutely possible and imperative.