Sharing Jesus part one
There was a red convertible roaring down the highway. The guy driving saw the local pastor standing on the side of the road holding a sign saying “the end is near.” What an idiot the guy thought… Up ahead, he saw the Catholic priest with a sign too. It said, “turn around before it’s too late.” This time the driver honked his horn and flipped the priest the bird. What a prick, he thought… The priest and pastor watched as the car went flying around a bend and then they heard screeching tires, a crash, and a loud splash. The priest walked up to the pastor and asked, “do you think we should change our signs to say the bridge is out?”
How often, when trying to share about our faith with someone, do we find ourselves misunderstood or not being able to really communicate with those we are trying to reach? How often do we struggle to go outside of our comfort zones? How often are we afraid to get asked a question that we don’t know the answer to? Especially in this country, for the longest time, we have been told that it is impolite to discuss religion and politics at the dinner table or in any other type of polite social event. In recent times, discussing spirituality has become more acceptable during and post-COVID, but we are a relativistic post-Christian, post-modern society in the United States, where anything you want to believe goes and saying there is only one way to approach God can be considered hate speech. The loudest voices we hear in our culture and in the media are the ones shouting to drown out or twist the message of love, acceptance, forgiveness, and grace that is the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even our own churches end up drowning out the message that God so loved the world by condemning the secular culture and screaming about abortion, homosexuality, addiction, sanctity of marriage, the Ten Commandments, and social justice or injustice depending on your viewpoint.
Romans 1:18-20 says,
‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. ‘
Just looking around at the state our world is in through the will of what mankind has done, the unrighteousness of the world and the pain it causes is evident. What do we do?
But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!
1 Peter 3:14-17 NLT
We typically hear verse 15 in this way,
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
1 Peter 3:15 NIV
Many pastors will use this as a plug to tell you that you need to memorize as much of the Bible as possible. If you could quote chapter and verse from Genesis to Revelation, that would be best. That way you always have an answer, right?
There was a story of a great orator, and he was putting on a show in front of a couple thousand people. Being a conservative crowd, he chose to memorize and dramatize Psalm 23, you know, that passage about the Lord is my shepherd. As he began to speak, the crowd fell silent; as he finished, he received a round of applause. As the crowd was clapping, a little old man, grizzled and frail, walked up to the podium. As he began to speak, the crowd fell silent. He also recited Psalm 23. As finished, there was not a single dry eye in the crowd, some people were crying hard, then the entire crowd rose in a standing ovation. Afterward, a reporter went up to the orator and asked him what had happened. They had both recited the same words, and he was a professional, why had the crowd reacted so differently to the old man’s words. The orator said, “I knew the words of Psalm 23 and spoke them well, he knows the shepherd.”
The people we meet, the ones we try to invite to church, the folks we invite to lunch or talk to passing in the grocery store; don’t need to hear a bunch of memorized lines. They need to hear your personal story of your personal relationship with God and how he has walked with you through thick and thin. Do you know the shepherd, or do you know the words? Will they ask us questions we don’t know the answers to, sure. It’s also just as important they know that we have faith and hope, without knowing all those answers. But we can always try to find those answers, preferably together…
While there are many commands given to believers throughout the New Testament, there is one given that is certainly near the very top of the list,
The imperative command to make disciples is found in Matthew 28:18-20. It is also the only imperative command in that passage. To not be making disciples is to be directly disobedient to the calling every believer has in our relationship with Jesus.
The passage is this:
‘Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore going and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”’
Going, baptizing, and teaching are continuous actions that convey means and method of what it entails to make disciples. However the command is to make disciples. Not just make believers, not just preach the Gospel, not just running around the planet, not just baptizing as many as possible in the lake at one time…to make disciples is a lifelong process that starts with the unbeliever coming to believe in Jesus and then learning to obey EVERYTHING that Christ commanded his early followers and for us EVERYTHING that the New Testament writers through Holy Spirit’s power command to us. The process of discipleship starts each of us sharing our faith and with those who have yet to believe hearing of the Gospel.
Over the next few weeks, I want to dive into the way some of the New Testament writers shared their faith to teach people what a relationship with God through Jesus is like. First, take a look at this youTube short…it’s titled, “The Gospel in a Nutshell.” It’s an example of one of those elevator speeches. If you haven’t heard of those, I’ll explain that in a minute.
Don’t worry, my mom already chastised me for recording that while driving. I did do all the editing after I got home though.
If you search youtube for the words gospel in a nutshell that pops up as the 7th result on the second page of the search. So number 17… It has had six views and two likes. If you search gospel in a nutshell about 259,000 results. I did find pretty good video called “How to share the Gospel in 5 minutes” by John Benzinger. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw0vth8zY5c) In 15 months, his video has had almost 5,200 view and 196 likes. But how effective do you think either of these methods actually are?
I would say, not very effective.
Statistics say that personal evangelism, one-on-one conversations, are the best and most effective way to share your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. If we truly believe that the scriptures are written by God through men, if we truly believe that through faith in Jesus is the only way to get right with God, if we truly believe that the world already stands condemned before God and anyone who chooses not to believe in Jesus as their Savior is going to spend eternity in hell, if we truly believe that a fulfilling, purposeful, contented, joyful, loving life can only be found in a relationship with our heavenly Father the Creator on all things through forgiveness and the righteousness of his Son, Jesus, in the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit; shouldn’t we want every single person on the planet to have that kind of life as well. Do we really think about every person we come in contact with is potentially going to spend an eternity in hell if they don’t first hear and then believe the Gospel?
There are dozens upon dozens of resources that teach people how to share their faith. Hundreds and hundreds of messages have been preached on the subject. If you Google, “what is the gospel?” there are over 233,000,000 million results. So, what excuses do we have for not sharing our faith?
Last Saturday, at the Biblically Bold men’s conference, Pastor Fred from Faith Covenant, shared his top six reasons he thinks people don’t share the Gospel. I agree with these, but I really think it all boils down to the last one.
6. We just don’t want to…
5. It is not toward the top of our priority list.
4. We think somehow we’ll screw it up and blow it.
3. We think we are not qualified to share the Gospel.
2. We don’t have any experience and have never practiced.
1. It all boils down to fear!
There is a resource out on the welcome desk from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on Simply sharing Jesus. But I want you to know, it all starts our own personal experience of growth in our knowledge and love of God. If we are not living out our faith, any testimony we give is ruined by our own hypocrisy. Fortunately, we have the mercy, grace, forgiveness, and righteousness of Jesus covering us and Holy Spirit’s indwelling power helping us. When we live out loud in the love of God and show that love to each and every individual we meet following the three greatest commandments, Love God, Love People, Love One Another. Then our personal relationships with others will give us a one-on-one platform for sharing our faith.