Religious people often have one thing in common—they are God-fearing. In numerous ways they have a reverence for God about them. The problem though is that sometimes they are not God-knowing. That is they have not trusted Christ. Instead, they're relying upon their good works and religious efforts to give them acceptance with God. Having your "antennas up" and being able to distinguish between a reverence for God and knowing Him can be very helpful in determining where to go in your conversation.
Five things often distinguish someone who is God-fearing but not God-knowing. Caution! People will vary, so some of these may apply to a particular person while others do not.
1. They are more apt to talk about their relationships with their churches than their relationships with Christ. The reason is obvious. Their relationships with Christ may be nonexistent while their relationships with the churches are something that they act upon weekly.
2. When they talk about Christ, they might use the term “God” more than “Jesus.”
3. They are more comfortable talking about spiritual things from a "30,000 foot" level than a "ground" level. Hence it is easier to determine how God affects their thinking than their day-to-day walk.
4. The closer you get to the issue, "Have you trusted Christ as your only way to heaven?," or “Do you know that if you were to die, you’d go to heaven?” the more intimidated and defensive they become.
5. They applaud what they've done for the church more often than they mention what they are learning from Scripture. One common reason is that they're not studying the Word on a daily basis.
Part of reaching someone, is knowing who you're talking to. Using these thoughts may help you determine if the person you talk to is God-knowing or simply God-fearing and may direct your conversation.
(Note: This article originally appeared in EvanTell's 2012 Spring issue of Toolbox. View our Toolbox archives!)