When thinking about sharing your faith does it immediate bring to mind pictures of door-knocking, uncomfortable conversations, sweaty hands? I’d like to say that most Christians feel that way, but I don’t have any research studies, so let’s just say many Christians feel that way. That’s why we banish the term “evangelism” from the list of typically feel-good experiences and quarantine it to the often infrequent church outreach programs, mostly attended by those with an evangelistic spiritual gift.
“Buck it up and do it anyway,” is about as helpful advice as saying, “Stop eating and you will lose weight.” It makes sense, it works, but the emotional barrier is higher than the Great Wall of China was to the ever-invading Mongolians.
So, why do we often have a fearful aversion to sharing the most important good news ever— news that means life or death for every single person? Let me count the ways: fear, rejection, anxiety, foolishness, embarrassment, not enough information, shyness, or “I’m at work!”, to list just a few.
But might I suggest that the true reluctance comes mostly from a few misperceptions:
USED CAR SALESMAN: We feel that sharing the gospel is like closing a deal where the new convert must pray with you to receive Jesus Christ into their hearts then and there.
Sharing Christ is not closing a deal of salvation. In fact, there is a dangerously fine line in requiring people to pray a prayer to somehow ink the eternal deal when their hearts have not turned in faith or their eyes once fully blinded by the god of this age, are still not yet open enough to see Jesus.
Faith alone is what God requires for salvation. There is no formula or ritual. Just faith.
NOT MY JOB: The Bible is clear that salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit. God saves. It’ not our job to save. We cannot change a heart or save a soul. Our job IS to bear witness to the good news of Jesus and what He has done in our lives.
Further, knowing that God saves, not us, is humbling on the one hand, but can become an excuse on the other. “Why should I tell people about Jesus if God does all the work?” In reality, God’s Spirit does indeed do all the saving, but somehow in His mighty and mysterious nature, He uses us to bring the good news. We must tell people about Jesus.
Related to this “not my job” misperception is the often misquoted saying supposedly by St. Francis of Assisi (though no one can find the quote): “Preach the gospel at all times, but when necessary, use words.” Sounds like wisdom, but we are no more told to remain silent about the good news than we would pantomime the message “Get out! The building is on fire!”
Truthfully, sometimes God conveys the gospel through our actions without our words. That’s because He is sovereign and doesn’t really need us. Sometimes we have to make the jumping up and down gestures to alert people to the fire. But it’s not the RULE! We must share the good news BOTH with our actions AND our words.
I DON’T HAVE AN EXCITING TESTIMONY: As a boy I attended a Christian summer camp that I am convinced would truck in the best sinners they could find in New York City, so they would impress us with how Jesus saves gang members, carousers, hard rock musicians, other assorted Satanists, and drug lords.
Not only was I impressed that God could save anyone, but I was equally convinced that I must somehow have slipped under the gates of the kingdom because I could never have such an exciting big league testimony. I was saved from the Little League of sinners, too young for the adolescent and adult Major Leagues of sin. In short, I have no exciting story to tell.
The problem with this view is that the testimony is really not about ME. It’s not about how bad my life was or how far in the pit Jesus had to go to pull me out.
My testimony is about Jesus. And “testimony” is the right word because our lives in word and deed are bearing testimony before heaven and earth to God’s mercy (Ephesians 3:8-10).
Authored by Dr. David F. Ingrassia, Stewarding Pastor of Charlotte Awake