Thursday, September 04, 2008

But I Don't Know What to Say!

Most every follower of Jesus that I rub shoulders with want to see people come into relationship with Jesus Christ. In my last entry, I shared that although most believers befriend people who are not yet believers (a good thing) they still need to begin spiritual conversations with their friends if they are going to find people of peace and see what God does in their lives (Matthew 10:1-20).
When I share with my friends that they need to be 'inquiring' about their friends spiritual journeys or thoughts and that they should begin spiritual conversations, the number one reason that I am told why they do not 'inquire' is that they think that they do not know what to say. The next most popular reason I hear about in my informal survey is a concern about saying the wrong thing. My quick answer to that reason is that to say nothing is the only 'wrong thing' that can be said - or this case, not said.
I certainly do understand that folks have fear about sharing their faith (Jesus understood this too by the way). I do not want to go into too much detail on this because hopefully you'll be able to read my thoughts in detail when the book I'm working gets published (Probably some time in late 2009), but for now, let me give you a quick overview of the truth that the Word of God gives us regarding sharing our faith. Let me begin by dispelling one very strong myth in the Western world that I think reinforces our fear instead of relieving it. The myth is that you have to "...earn the right to be heard." I have been reading many contemporary books on Evangelism and most of them state this truth in one way or another. No where in Scripture does anyone ever teach that you have to befriend someone for a period of time so that you can 'earn' the right to share truth with them. Jesus often gives us a much different example. Jesus did not befriend the blind man in John 9 yet at the end of the story he seems to be worshiping Jesus. Jesus doesn't befriend the demoniac in Mark 5, in fact, by Jesus healing this guy Jesus makes some enemies (not very befriending) and when the demoniac wants to be with Jesus (to be his friend), Jesus tells him 'no'. That is just two examples of Jesus not 'earning' the right to be heard and yet sharing truth with his non-friends and in these cases in very direct fashion. The teaching that we must earn the right to be heard before sharing Jesus is a lie and I believe it stifles people in their witnessing. Because many folks have believed that they need to earn the right to be heard, the begin to ask if they have invested enough into this person in order to share Jesus? Have I earned the right to share Jesus with them? What if I haven't earned the right and they get mad? If I have to earn the right to share Jesus and if I haven't actually earned it yet and I share Jesus with my friend, they might walk away from me and I'll be hurt." So let me be clear... "YOU DO NOT HAVE TO EARN THE RIGHT TO SHARE JESUS WITH ANYONE!" In fact I would say this; Everyone has the God given right to hear the gospel. Besides, Paul teaches us that the power of God to salvation is not with the person sharing, it is with the truth of the Gospel itself (Romans 1:16). Ok, enough of that, let me give you a brief overview of what the Bible does teach us about freedom in sharing our faith - remember, this is a brief overview and not an in depth teaching. 1. Jesus knew you would be fearful to share His truth and that you would worry about not saying the right thing or having the best way to present it. Because Jesus knew this, here is the summary of what He taught in the Gospels. Jesus taught that whenever we are in an opportunity to share the Gospel at very moment He will give you the right words in the right fashion to meet the exact need of the person you are sharing. How cool is that. Too cool to be true you might say. Well here is the Scripture to back it up. I do expect you to look up these verses (I have hot linked them for you) and to study them because if you do, you will be set free forever in regards to sharing Jesus with boldness, confidence and success...every time. Matthew 10:16-20; Mark 13:9-11; Luke 12:11-12; Luke 21:12-15 ...and there are plenty more. 2. When you share the truth of Christ with folks, you can have complete and total confidence. Paul teaches us that every believer is a competent minister of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6). That is a dynamic piece of truth. God considers you as competent to minister (deliver) the truth of what Jesus has done for us (the New Covenant) with those who need to hear about it. 3. Every time you open your mouth and talk about Jesus, the power of God pours out of your words. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will come and live in every true follower of Jesus and one of the major purposes for this living inside of us is to give us power to be His witnesses in all the world (Acts 1:8). So in very short order we have learned that whenever you share your faith that you have the right words at the right time for whom ever you are sharing. You have the confidence that God knows that you are competent when you share His New Covenant and you have the power of God flowing through you as you tell the truth about Jesus. Remember that when you share it is not about you, it is all about Him. You do not determine if you are successful, Jesus has already determined that you will accomplish His purpose in the life of the person you are sharing with every time and that makes you 100% successful. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for IT is the power of the God to salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16 I hope this has benefited you in some way. Please respond with questions, comments or clarifications if you are so inclined. Jesus certainly has taken the fear of inquiring away (Matt. 10:11-12).