When was the last time you shared your faith with someone who didn’t believe in God? When was the last time you invited someone to church or a church related meeting? When was the last time you thought about it and didn’t?
Oh, how often we keep our light hidden under a bushel! It is relatively easy to “share your faith” with a fellow church member facing a challenge. And that is important. But to go out on a limb and share the good news of Jesus with a total stranger who may or not even believe in God is another matter all together. Let the missionaries do that, for crying out loud!
Why are we sometimes afraid to share our faith with those who need it? Is it the fear of being rejected or being thought foolish? Jesus did not promise things would automatically be a life of ease and bliss when we make the decision to follow him. Actually, he said we would face opposition, just as he did. But he taught us how to face it and defeat it.
Being a Christian does not necessarily make life easier. Of course, in some ways it does. We have peace of mind and a sense of God’s love that brings us through the ups and downs of life. But bring a Christian sometimes makes our lives harder. Jesus said that to be his disciple we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him.
It’s not a complicated theology we’re after here. In essence, to follow Jesus is quite simple but it’s not always easy. It demands commitment and consistent efforts. It is no easy task to deny one’s self – to lay aside your personal opinions and idiosyncrasies that you think are part of who you are but not part of what God wants you to be. Paul said, “I die daily.” (I Cor 15:31) If he dies daily, does that imply that he is also born again or resurrected daily? We too must die daily. We too must put off the “old man” every day and put on the “new man” every day, every hour. It’s all too easy to talk about, but not always easy to do. One day’s victory does not guarantee the next.
How do you share your faith?
Let’s go back to that first question: When was the last time you shared your faith with someone who didn’t believe in God? If you’re like me, it’s probably been a while. The question is, “Why?” There are lots of reasons perhaps. You may not feel God has called you to such a ministry. You haven’t been trained in evangelism. You’re not good at talking to people. You haven’t solved every problem of faith for yourself; how can you be expected to share it with others?
Underlying most of the reasons or excuses we come up with for not sharing our faith is preoccupation with the “self” family: self-doubt, self-pity, self-love, self-belittlement, etc. This self-“ish”-ness is not automatically malicious. It just shows where the focus is in our lives. When we put off the old man, die daily, and put on the new man, are born again each day, we leave some of that self-focus behind and are more willing to obey Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.
Willing to obey Jesus, that is the key. It takes humility to get your “self” out of the way and let God guide you how to share your faith with fellow Christians as well as non-believers. It requires silencing all the chatter of excuses in your head and listening for and obeying God’s voice.
Jesus told us to let our light shine so people would see our good works and glorify God. The way you live your life may be the only sermon some people ever hear. Let’s say you’re a writer. You have a unique opportunity to reach a wider slice of humanity with your pen than you might in person. Who is your audience? Is it fellow Christians? Are you just trying to assert your brand of Christianity to the faithful and prove wrong those who disagree with you theologically? Or are you trying to reach all Christians will inspiration and support?
Maybe you’re a singer or an artist. How can you reach people with the message of God’s love through your music or your art? What if you are in business, large or small, how do you let your light shine to bring people to know God? Or maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, how do you share the Good News?
Here’s the question I would like us all to consider, “How can I reach the non-believer with my writing, my art, my music, my business, my stay-at-home career?” How can you reach the kind of person who would never walk into a religious bookstore to buy your Christian book or CD? How do you share with a co-worker or client, or a friend across the street? How will you reach them? Maybe you start a blog or a Bible study for the neighborhood. Maybe you help with a prison ministry. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are tons of possibilities. It’s something to think about. Be open to a new adventure.
Faith and Brownies
Whatever your job title or profession, it matters more where your heart is. Are you willing to share what’s in your heart? If you had an awesome brownie recipe, you would probably love to share it. Partly because you have no doubt that it’s so good. Funny how that works. You take delicious brownies to a party. People eat them, they experience how good they are, then they want to recreate that experience for themselves and others. Naturally, they ask you for the recipe and naturally, you send it to them.
Your faith in God is much more amazing than the best brownie recipe in the world. We’re not afraid to take the brownies to the party or share the recipe because we know it’s good. The problem in sharing our faith is that, for any number of reasons, we don’t think our faith is that outstanding, in fact we usually are pretty judgemental of how good our faith is.
Well, just stop right there.
It’s not about how amazing your faith appears to others or how much theological mumbo-jumbo you can pontificate on. It’s how sincere it is, how child-like it is. We could all have a stronger faith, but the fact is that we do have a faith. That’s what counts. Use what you have, because however small you may think it is, it is at least as large as a grain of mustard seed, which Jesus says can move mountains. You’ve probably even seen a few mountains shift in your life because of your faith. Never underestimate how powerful your faith is at this very moment.
Is your faith of the heart or of the head? Both are nice, but a heart-based faith is more substantial and closer to what Jesus wants from us than intellectual proficiency could ever be.
I think the most important thing is to live your faith in every moment of your life. When people experience the peace and love you have because of your faith, they just might ask for the “recipe” just as they would with those brownies.
You wouldn’t go into a party bragging about what great brownies you had brought (well some folks might, but it’s not cool) and that everyone else’s brownies or even all the other desserts couldn’t come close to being as good as yours. The best way is to let people discover how good they are for themselves.
As with brownies, so with faith. Some over-zealous Christians are loud and almost annoying in the way they proclaim the Gospel. They shout and strut and insist their version of Christianity is the best if not the only valid one.
The best way to start sharing your faith is to live it in such a way that people can see the beauty of it: the way you act and think, the way you treat and help others. When they see it in you, they want to experience it for themselves. If someone says to you, “How do you stay so peaceful?” perhaps it’s time to share how you pray, how you have experienced God’s love, or something you’ve learned from the Bible. God will put the right words in your mouth.
Do not doubt your ability to share in this way. We have such grandiose preconceptions of what it means to share our faith because of stories we’ve heard from others or read in books where hundreds or thousands of people became Christians during a single sermon.
That does happen. But it is more often a quiet one-on-one with a friend or even a stranger. It boils down to loving your fellow men and women enough to get over your own hesitations and fears of inadequacy or being rejected. When Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion. He knew he could help them and he did. When you see a friend struggling along in life, do you turn away and ignore the problem because you don’t want to get involved or are you moved with compassion and let your light and love shine on them?
To the degree we humbly seek to follow Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, God will open the way for us to accomplish it. Even Billy Graham has not reached every single person in the world, but he went to as many as God sent him. Start with your own world, your own sphere of influence , however big or small, and don’t be surprised when God opens your world a little to let in more people for you to help.
And if you don’t know who to share your faith with, ask God to send someone in need that you will be able to help. The way God answers this prayer is usually not according to your preconceptions, so be alert to who comes your way and be willing to help them and share the faith you have.
Your life and your talents are gifts from God. Use them to glorify Him and He will open the way.
Let’s do this together. Will you join me this coming week to ask God for the opportunity to share your faith with someone? Don’t try to force anything. Let it be in God’s way. I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below. And share this with a friend you think would enjoy it.