While I was in the military, I was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC and attended Village Baptist Church. It was there that something changed in me; I started to really look at my walk with God. The people there were different, they were serious about sharing their faith and it had such an impact on me. Within the first week of attending the church, I had someone knocking on my door wanting to talk to me about Christ and how they could pray for me. I was surprised, a little annoyed, but mostly curious as they shared Christ with me. A year later I joined them to do the same for others. I remember visiting dozens of homes and maybe one person accepted Christ.
I know immediately what you are thinking. What a waste of time. More people may have been turned off by Jesus. That church contributed to the general view of irritation of door knockers and now evangelicals had been lumped in with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Perhaps. But here is my thought, I would rather have people “go” and do it wrong than not go at all. And it was the training in those days that really solidified my ability to share the Gospel. It became a part of who I was and who I am now. I can transition just about any conversation to the Gospel because I did it week after week.
Prison ministry was also another place where I put sharing the Gospel on repeat and Bill Glass Behind the Walls helped me more than any organization. Not necessarily because their training was amazing. But because they put the Gospel in my hands and put me in a position to share. And I shared and shared and shared and shared.
10,000 hours to mastery
You have heard the expression that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to master it. Whether that is working out, violin, basketball, or sharing the gospel. It is just reps. We all know that to be true about anything. If you are a successful person you have learned this to be true. It might have been from a coach screaming at you in high school, a drill sergeant wanting you to repeat a drill again, or you as a parent trying to get your kid to do basic math. Everything we learn is based on reps.
Jesus told us that we are to go and make disciples. It’s one thing to make disciples of those who already know Jesus, but to start with those who don’t is very hard and very difficult. And so we resist it. In fact, I think there are several reasons why we aren’t trying to get our “reps in” on Gospel sharing. I think the first of these is something I alluded to earlier. We don’t want to be seen as one of “those people.” Whether it is a street preacher, door knocker, or virtual evangelist there is something in us that cringes when we are not the main stream. The last thing we want to be seen as is another version of fake news or alternative facts that show a deep state conspiracy theory led by Satan to lull Americans into a dullness to Spiritual things to keep people out of heaven by making the Grace of God seem boring, weird, or something that only the fringe would need or accept.
Am I qualified?
On top of that, we feel like we aren’t qualified to share. We might look at our own brokenness and our inability to overcome anger, lust, or become a person worthy enough to represent Jesus. We don’t want to share Christ only to have it invalidated because we got road rage the next day.
Someone else can do this better.
Finally, there are some of us who don’t feel like it is not our individual responsibility. That is something that the professional Christians do. The rest of us should live godly lives and if someone asks us why we are so different then we quietly invite them to talk to our pastor or someone more spiritually gifted.
I get all that. Let’s see what God’s Word says about How Christians should share their faith.
There are a couple verses that really speak to how Jesus calls us to Go.
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.
In Mark 3, Jesus calls his disciples whom he named apostles…(Greek for sent ones). Now notice the prepositions. This should inform how we Go.
The twelve went to Jesus. The twelve went with Jesus. The twelve went for Jesus.
Going to Jesus was physically approaching him on top of a mountain. He probably had them look out over the horizon and see the people below and gave them a vision of the mission that he had in mind. Namely, that he was presenting Himself as the long awaited King of Israel. He called his heralds and told them where they would be going and what they would be doing.
Today, Jesus doesn't’ call us to a literal mountain where he will meet us and give us the mission. He gave it to the disciples in Matthew 28 and in Acts 1 just before He ascends to heaven. We have a mission to share with the world the good news.
What I have noticed is that people who share the Gospel out of obligation and not out of a heart filled with hope usually come off as cuss words to those they share with. The Holy Spirit isn’t at work and they look more like the Sons of Sceva than the Apostles.( If you haven’t read up on the Sons of Sceva, they just went around casting out demons in Jesus name without having any relationship with Jesus. And so therefore got a beat down.)
Public vs Private Zeal
Never let your public zeal outdo your private zeal. I heard that somewhere and wish I could properly attribute it, but even when I google it now it comes up empty. But it struck me to the core that whenever I am more excited about God in public than I am about him in private, my faith becomes hollow. Strong shell, nothing inside. What I am not saying is that my private life should be without sin. But rather admit your sin boldly. Bring all the darkness to the light. Let the wretchedness of your soul release the weight and darkness and jump into the arms of grace. Jesus died so that you would not have to carry that weight. This grace is the best of news because we don’t have to hide or fear or run from Christ, but rather run to him. That message becomes the one we share.
Before Jesus sent them on their own in Mark 6, Jesus asked the disciples to go with him to be trained. He showed them what it looked like to confront a demon possessed man and to command the demon to leave. He showed them what it looked like to deal with rejection from those who were supposed to “get it.” That training would enable them to go on their own. But more than that, Jesus promised his disciples that he would be with them even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20) And so even today as we reproduce what we have seen others do in sharing the Gospel we can know that whenever we go to present the Gospel, that Jesus is with us. He is with us in celebration. He is with us in rejection. He is with us in frustration. And what might be the most comforting is that although he gives us the authority to go, he never takes away his responsibility for the actual saving of souls.
When Jesus sent out the disciples he gave them instructions on how to go from village to village representing the kingdom of God. He told them to find a person of peace and let them provide for them. He told them to heal and take care of the needs of those whom they were sharing the message of hope. He also let them know that if they were rejected it wasn’t their fault. They were doing what they were supposed to do and rejection was to be expected. Think about that. God intentionally told them to do something they would fail at. Would God ask you to do something where the result would be negative?
However the result of rejection is way worse for them. Jesus said if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. (Matthew 10:14-15)
Why we don’t share
And this might be the real reason we don’t share. Everyone wants to be the person who delivers a check of billions of dollars and says, “Guess what, you’re rich!” Everyone wants to be the one that reaches down pulls a person out of a cage of hungry lions. People are generally excited in either one of those two situations to be an ambassador for the king who is doling out great gifts. But giving billions of dollars to Jeff Bezos might result in a quizzical look, a wave of the hand, and a “just put it over there next to the other stuff people just gave me.” He doesn’t need it. If you start rushing someone quickly out of a house filled with wild lions that the resident can’t see or hear, then police are called and complaints are filed. This is why we struggle. There is no easy way of telling someone that there is a king they cannot see who is preparing to bring His kingdom to earth. Rejection of the King is considered traitorous, so it would be really great for you to surrender to the King now and be part of the welcoming party.
The culture at one time was dominated by the fear that we could never be good enough in the eyes of the gods. Our sin and our conscience would wreck people. People in that state were desperate to hear the good news. And even then they rejected it as being too easy. Now in an age where right is relative it feels like those who are proclaiming there is judgment to come feel like the homeless guy with a cardboard sign reading, “Repent!”
It’s all a matter of do we really know the future or not. If I could go back to October 1929 and tell everyone to divest themselves of all their stock and put all their money into gold bricks before the 29th of that month, how many would have believed me? Many would have written me off as a conspiracy theorist. I would be calling them foolish to invest in something that was going to be worthless in just a little time. I would be proclaiming something extremely dire and would essentially be a doomsday person. However, on October 29, I would have looked like the smartest person ever or a prophet and people would be coming back to me for wisdom and hope and help. That is how the world works.
Now if on the backside of the crash, I had never warned anyone and just bought up people’s houses and started to enjoy the life of luxury, I would probably feel a tinge of guilt for being that selfish. I would probably console myself with my wealth and the fact that they had access to the same information I had. This was their choice.
In the terms of an eternity with Christ, we can rejoice that we will not be condemned even for missed evangelistic opportunities. But if in the end you do have the words of eternal life and you don’t share them because you are afraid of losing a friendship, you have to ask the question is that person truly a friend. You are trading on the long side 40-50 years of friendship for eternity. Any way you look at it, if Christ is really coming, then you ultimately have nothing to lose by sharing with those you care about that Jesus died on the cross for their sin. He rose from the dead. He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell those who believe and He is coming back. Do you want in on that?
If you have insulated yourself from non-Christians for fear of what they might do to you or against you or the rejection that hurts, my hope would be that you would look at the lengths Jesus went to save you, and from that example go to your neighbor, your co-worker, classmate as the nations have come to Austin and fulfill the calling on your life that Jesus sent you to go for Him.