I Might As Well Be A Pineapple-Eating CrossFitter.
Even the word makes me feel guilty.
I was raised in a Christian home. I did AWANA. I learned the Romans Road. I attended conferences on how to share my faith.
And yet, in real life, it doesn't happen.
When I was in my late teens, I worked at a coffee shop and was burdened for those I worked with because I knew they didn't know Jesus. I prayed for an opportunity to arise and one day it did! One of my co-workers asked me, "You know, there's something different about you. You're nicer than normal people - why is that?"
Here it was! My big moment!
And I choked.
I don't even remember exactly what I said, but let me tell you, it wasn't "Jesus"!
Why is evangelism so hard?
There are many things I am very good at evangelizing about.
Homeschooling. Being a boy mom. The season of fall. Trader Joes. Ultimate frisbee. Coffee.
Yet when it comes to something that actually matters, I freeze.
Jon's message on Sunday was a continuance of the book of Colossians (you can hear it at myabc.church/messages if you missed it).
Apparently, those in the church at Colossae also found sharing their faith to be difficult. Paul addresses this in chapter 4:
"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful, with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison - that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:2-5
As Jon pointed out, I think we can find comfort in the fact that Paul himself (the author of Romans!) needed prayer about speaking clearly the gospel of Christ.
I don't want to screw it up. I don't want to say too much or too little or give the person I'm speaking with a negative view of Jesus.
But is that the real reason I struggle with sharing my faith?
That is certainly part of it, but if I was to be honest, I would admit that the hardest part of telling others about Jesus is my concern for how I am perceived.
Let's face it.
No one likes getting a tract left on their car (designed to look like money no less!).
No one likes being yelled at through a bull horn about their political views.
No one likes to feel like a project.
If I bring up Jesus, am I going to be lumped in with those who have misrepresented him so many times?
Am I going to be viewed dubiously, as if I'm one of those who eat pineapple on their pizza or do CrossFit?
There were two points in Jon's message that were particularly helpful to me.
1) The desire to share my faith comes from a rock solid belief that Jesus is the ONLY way.
We live in a society consumed with privacy. Our garages connect to our houses so we don't have to walk by our neighbors. Our video rental stores are shutting down because we'd rather just stream online or go to a Redbox than have to talk to anyone. Self-checkout at grocery stores is becoming the norm. Our disagreements with people are conducted online where we can be safe to formulate witty responses without the pressure of actually speaking face-to-face.
When we barely talk to people in real life, how exactly does one breach the topic of religion? Particularly if our message isn't, "Whatever works for you.”?
Because those of us who know Jesus know.
We have peace, joy, and hope.
We have abundant and eternal life that doesn't only start when we die.
We know our "Bad things will turn out for good, our good things can never be taken away, and the best is yet to come" (Jonathan Edwards)
But others do not.
Others haven't been told this good news.
Others are destined to a life apart from God.
Others are broken, hurting, sick, and lost and we have the answer.
True belief begets action.
If you truly believe that "Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and no one can come to the Father except through him" (John 14:6), you won't be able to help bringing him up in your conversations.
Not out of shame or guilt, however, but as the formally blind man in John 9 said: "'One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see'."
Or the man previously possessed by a legion of evil spirits in Mark 5, who "went away and began to proclaim...how much Jesus had done for him..."
Or Peter and John when threatened by the authorities in Acts 4, “‘we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard'."
Jesus has changed us. We have experienced His love. Why would we not be compelled to share it?
2) Turn your worry for the lost into prayer for them.
If we do believe that Jesus is the only way, and we have relationships with those who don't know him, and either we haven't had an opportunity to share Christ or our opportunities have gone awry, the natural result is worry and anxiety on their behalf.
Turn that worry into prayer!
It takes less energy, is better for your health, and brings you into a deeper relationship with God.
Make prayer a lifestyle choice and every time you find yourself turning to worry, turn to God (this also applies for all the other things we get anxious about!).
Like it says in verse 2 of the Colossians passage - do it watchfully and expectantly, in full assurance that God moves when we pray. And also with thanksgiving, thanking God for what He has done and what He will do.
Evangelism doesn't have to be this big complicated thing.
As one of my professors in college put it, "Evangelism is just one beggar showing another beggar where the food is."
We have the food. Let's invite others to the table.