A short preamble:
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might appreciate that I totally believe in the truth of the Bible as God’s word. I totally believe that people who fail to accept Christ are going to hell for eternity. However, I of course understand that not everyone believes this, and I also respect anyone’s right to disagree with me. I think that pragmatically speaking, on earth we all have to find a way of getting along that works around everyone’s different beliefs, and respects everyone’s human dignity.
About sharing our faith, or evangelism
As Christians all of us are called to share our faith.
Sometimes a Christian might say that they are sharing their faith by their lifestyle. This is good, and very important. However, to fully obey the Bible, we also need to physically open our mouths and say the thing!
Sincerely, this is the part I find hardest of my Christian walk. This, rather than the fact that I will still sin against God, is the part of being a Christian that persistently fills me with fear and shame.
It makes me feel so bad because I know that it is more important than a matter of life and death – it is actually a matter of eternal destinies, heaven or hell.
If I have ever met you in my life and failed to share the good news of Jesus with you (as is the case with 99% of people I have ever met) then please do not think that I did not care about your eternal destiny. I sincerely want absolutely everyone to go to heaven, and especially people that I have personally met. This is true even where we did not get along or interactions between us were strained, awkward, or unfriendly.
Why I struggle with sharing my faith
It is not that I am shy about admitting that I am a Christian – or at least I am no longer shy. Rather it is the fear of forcing people to listen to what they really are not interested in, or going beyond what they are comfortable with. Most of all, I hate telling people that, without Christ, they are bound for hell, especially if they are genuinely lovely people. And yet the truth of hell is precisely why it is necessary to preach the faith. Recently some Christians disagreed with my viewpoint that the doctrine of hell is the most important reason why people have to accept Christ. Well, personally speaking this is the most compelling reason why I think it necessary to share my faith.
If people demonstrated that they were deeply interested and wanted to find out more, then that would make it a lot easier to start talking. However, the Bible makes it clear that we are to be proactive in sharing our faith. This means that we are not necessarily to wait for people to indicate interest (gulp!)
Actually, this blog is a major way of sharing my faith. It suits me so well!
-I can write at length and explain different aspects of the Christian faith in detail. However no-one is forced to read; anyone is free to ignore this blog if they wish.
-Because it is a blog, it is time neutral. Anyone can take their time to read through different issues at any time that they wish. It may be impractical for me to physically stay up discussing faith-based issues till late at night, but with this blog, people can stay up all night reading if they wish.
-If someone thinks that they might be interested in the faith, this blog is a great way for them to check out a few things, without fear that I will personally jump on the slightest expression of interest and try to drag them to church.
However, deep down I do not really think this blog is sufficient; I know I still need to open my mouth.
Sincerely, I would love to be able to say to my friends:
“You’re fine…you’ll make it into Heaven no problem!”
Sometimes people ask me: “I’m a good person aren’t I?”…and I would love to be able to reassure them. (The correct answer to this would be: “Yes, you are a good person relative to me and my standards and relative to any reasonable standards of life in this world. However, relative to God, none of us is good – this is why we ALL need Christ!”)
If the idea of someone “trying to convert you” makes you feel uncomfortable, then please trust me, it is ten times worse from the other side.
Soooooo I guess I’m going to try harder to share my faith with people. But as I say, I sincerely respect people’s right to disagree with me; we are all entitled to our opinion about what it means to be alive, and the meaning to attach to our human lives. So if you ever find me stuttering on faith-based issues in your vague direction, please feel free to tell me to keep quiet, I will not be offended! The most important thing is that I at least need to have made an effort, so that no-one will have legitimate grounds to look at me accusingly on the Day of Judgement!
So that was the good news. The bad news is that if and when you embrace Christ you will also have to embrace this awkwardness yourself! You will also have to start thinking of ways to “subtly” introduce the topic of faith, and to be proactive where you suspect that people don’t really want to know. Actually, maybe I am the one making my life more complicated than it need be. My new resolution: to pray desperately for God to give me clear openings – ie people begging to find out about God and the truth of God’s word. When such an opening presents itself, then I will be able to speak confidently, and everyone will be happy. So that is the solution I would recommend if you find this idea as difficult as I do – to pray passionately and desperately – and honestly.
Tell God: “Father, I know I have to do this, this is how I feel about it (tell him how you feel about it). It makes me feel….(tell Him how it makes you feel)… Please work in people’s hearts to make them open to Your truth, and to ask me about it…Amen!”
However, maybe your friends do not yet know that you are a Christian? There are a few ways to approach this. One is the “outright way” favoured by myself personally where you just shout endlessly about your faith on Facebook or whatever other platform is available to you, where you conspicuously carry in your Bible into uni lectures, or wear tee-shirts with Christian slogans loudly emblazoned all over them: “JESUS IS LORD!”. And then you can do this over and over until people have thoroughly got the message. I’m saying this in a joking manner, but this is actually what I did; I found it easier to be “in your face” about this than to try to be subtle.
Or you could always try the less direct approach, where you possibly post Bible verses every so often, or “like” Christian-themed pages or posts etc. I honestly think that the easiest approach is to shout loudly for a few weeks or months, and then to tone it down once people have started to recognise that you are a Christian.
Write a blog!
When people start to realise that you are a Christian, there will invariably be people who are interested or intrigued about Jesus, or what faith means or the promise of hope – but who are too shy to ask you about it directly. Sometimes these will turn out to be the most surprising people. This is where a blog comes in very useful. Perhaps you could write a blog about your own journey to faith, what drew you to Christ or how you eventually decided that it was true. Perhaps you could also talk about the changes that have happened in your life since accepting Christ. And then also talk about what you have struggled with. Often as Christians, we feel tempted to paint a falsely rosy picture of our faith, and to pretend that everything is always amazing. However, our honesty will always speak a lot more powerfully to others. (One reason for this is because God Himself is a God of truth). I LOVE being able to tell people that while, yes, there are many things that I have struggled with in my faith, and yes, there are many things that I continue to struggle with in my faith, still God remains God and I have found it an immense privilege to be called by His name!
Image of colourful “share” clouds by Geralt on Pixabay