Sharing Your Faith with Confidence
Evangelism… bringing others into contact with the truth that is Jesus Christ… as Christians, we are to take the “Great Commission” seriously. However, we wonder how best to accomplish what Jesus charged His disciples (and all believers) with.
It is important to understand that Jesus was at odds with the world… just as we are. He was familiar with the lure of the secular world (having been subjected to temptation), and He was no stranger to hostility and rejection.
Jesus remained faithful unto death to the mission given to Him by His Father… the salvation of humanity, and the destruction of both sin and death. Jesus said:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-20)
Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.’ (John 15:20)
However, Jesus also said:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Scripture References and Discussion…
In many Christian apologetic texts, 1 Pet. 3:15 is the “trumpet charge” for Christians to defend their faith to skeptics:
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
It is important to note that this passage does not begin with the words “But be ready…”. There is a chain of thought running through this verse that starts back in 1 Pet. 3:13:
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?…
There is encouragement that there is no need to fear that what you are doing is right: telling people the Gospel. However, as the verses continue through 1 Pet. 3:14, there is no promise that a person standing up for the Gospel will not be harmed:
…But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
This is a clear acknowledgement that a person that is speaking for the Gospel may very well experience hostility and possibly even dangers. So one of the questions that we as Christians face throughout our lives is how are the diametrically opposed concepts of evangelism, and the fear that almost always accompanies it, reconciled?
By understanding that the Kingdom of God is not of this earth:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt. 6:19-21)
So when God says in 1 Pet. 3:13 that we have nothing to fear, He is not talking about not having concerns over whether we will be hurt, disgraced or even killed. He is talking about the fact that as Christians we have the assurance of eternal life. With this assurance, we can approach evangelism without fear because nothing of this earth can do us lasting harm. Scripture indicates that we can do what is necessary by sanctifying Jesus Christ as Lord in our hearts.
While the preceding discussion is one theological under-pinning of this issue, the reality is that we will always have at least some hesitation, if not fear, and learning to overcome it is a slow and ongoing process.
Please remember a critical point:
We are not called to be effective. We are called to be faithful.
Our job is an easy one. We tell others about Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit gets the tough job… convicting their hearts for Jesus.
The above having been said, what are some practical ways in which we as Christians can evangelize with a minimum of fear?
-At work and in social situations, search out people that are approachable.
-Depend on, and exploit, relationships of trust that you have built with people.
-To build relationships of trust… demonstrate that you are trustworthy yourself, and demonstrate in your personal life openness, truthfulness, thankfulness, sincerity, happiness and positivity.
-Trust your feelings.
-Read the Word, and let those around you see you do that. “Walk the Talk”…
-Have a humble pride in your faith in God and in Jesus Christ, and “live the Kingdom life”… do not disown what you say by what you do.
-Have a “servant’s heart” to those around you; people cannot dislike, and are drawn to, those who unselfishly serve other people.
-Leverage your unique strengths (which are spiritual gifts), and exploit what works:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (1 Corinthians 12:4)
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church of God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)
In other words… are you a great conversationalist? Go about your evangelism by talking with people about Jesus Christ. Are you a great writer? Go about your evangelism by writing a psalm of praise to God and sharing it with a friend, or write a blog and publish it on the Internet. To use the tag line from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines… “Get Out There”.
-Be sensitive to the opportunities that the Holy Spirit places in your path… they will knock very softly.
-When speaking to people about Jesus Christ, always explain what He has done for you, rather than trying to explain what He can do for them.
-Know your theology, but don’t quote your theology. Jesus knew His theology, but presented truths simply; strive to follow that example. Literally… “KISS” (Keep It So Simple).
-Every Christian is in possession of an effective device for use with people: a SMILE. Use it.
The case has been made that fear can be eliminated from our lives when we sanctify Jesus Christ as Lord in our hearts.
The precious words of Jesus Christ before His suffering are filled with love for His own, which are all who truly believe in Him. Consider with the practice of Lectio Divina these words of Jesus Christ:
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (John 17:13-19)