I once heard it said that the best gospel presentation is the one given. That is as true as it is confronting. Many good books, sermons, and seminars can help us prepare to share our faith. But none of these resources can do for us what we often find the hardest thing to do: just start the conversation.
We often feel helpless when it comes to our friends and their eternal destiny. We justify the self-centeredness that ignores our neighbours. We subtly, maybe even subconsciously, question the truths that would loosen our tongues and break other peoples’ chains – all in favour of maintaining a more comfortable silence.
If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we are content to avoid our fears, accept our obstacles, and nurture our self-centeredness. So, we tell ourselves that someone else will share the gospel; or that the potential awkwardness, rejection, or persecution are not worth it; or that God is not likely to save those people anyway. God help us!
Thankfully, God does help us! We need God’s help to lift our eyes and see we are surrounded by dead people who desperately need us to preach the gospel and live out the life of Christ in their midst. When we focus on what’s real – the facts that God exists, His wrath against sin is real, His gospel is the only way to eternal joy, souls are precious and perishing, and the lost sheep will hear their Shepherd’s voice – then evangelism becomes utterly exciting.
Evangelism will not happen forever. It is a means to one great end. Human beings – every single one of us in history – are created in God’s image for eternal purposes and one immense goal: to bring glory to God. When we read the words of C.S. Lewis about the eternal significance and destiny of our neighbours, we get a sense of the weightiness and joy that will come from sharing the gospel:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.”
History, and everyone in it, is going somewhere. That means that, while no two conversations, no two train rides, no two lunch breaks, and no two walks at the park are the same, they are all filled with infinite potential. And time is literally running out.
Like the wind, we do not know where the Spirit might blow on our ordinary days (John 3:8) – and that is exciting. Vertically-challenged Zacchaeus climbed a tree because he felt he needed to see Jesus for some reason (Luke 19:1–8); the Ethiopian eunuch was ‘randomly’ pondering Isaiah 53 during his commute (Acts 8:26–40); Sergius Paulus, a highly educated official, asked Paul to bring him God’s word (Acts 13:7–8); and a Roman jailer was set free after he begged Paul to tell him what he must do to be saved (Acts 16:25–34).
How would these people call on Him in whom they have not believed unless someone tells them (Romans 10:14)? Could it be that the Spirit is already at work in the lives of the people around us in ways we haven’t noticed yet?
If we want to take advantage of opportunities to share our faith, we have to learn to embrace the so-called awkwardness. In some cultures, it is deemed awkward to raise the issue of spiritual matters in conversation. But take heart: in whatever culture you live, God has already raised the issue. If He has raised your soul from the dead, the conversation has begun.
No two conversations are the same, but they are all filled with infinite potential.
You sit next to your co-worker as the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
You stand among other travellers in the queue as a sojourner whose citizenship is in heaven.
You interact with people in this age of intolerance and virtue signalling as one who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at God’s word alone.
You supervise children at the park as one who has been born again to a living hope.
You drink water with your hiking club as one whose heart overflows with rivers of living water.
You lay on a bed in the hospital as the recipient of a spiritual heart transplant – your stony, dead heart for a living heart of flesh.
Your family members watch you live out a thousand deaths to self (and eventually death itself) as a new creation in Christ.
If our chief concerns are about avoiding awkwardness, it should be more awkward not to talk about eternal things. You and I never know those who have been, who are, and who will soon be wrestling with these weighty spiritual issues, waiting for someone to bring them God’s word.
Believe that God is both willing and able to give you what you need in order that you might joyfully spread the word about His Son in any and every cultural scenario – however seemingly awkward it may feel at first.
God governs the cosmos in such a way that your everyday life shines the light of the gospel in all the strategic places and relationships in which he places you. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1), and Jesus is with you as you go and make disciples in His world (Matthew 28:18–20).
Perhaps you could share what you read each morning in your Bible with the people you encounter as you go about your day. This is intentional on your part, but in time, you won’t be able to help yourself – you will simply overflow.
When you pay for your coffee and croissants at the cafe you may frequent, sit down at a table, and then, when the server brings out your order, explains that you are about to pray and thank God for your meal and ask, “What can I pray for you?”
“How was your weekend?” is a question you could ask a friend or work colleague every Monday when you see them. And when the person returns the question, why not talk about the sermon you heard at Church.
Why not pray every day that God would open for you a door for His Word, so that you can “declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). Do you unashamedly believe the gospel is indeed God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16) but you’re still not sure where to start when God puts someone in your path? Why not start simple with just one word: hello.
Your hello could initiate the first conversation among many that God uses to draw someone to Himself. Maybe the first conversation becomes the conversation. ‘Hello’ is a small word, but it says to someone, “I see you.” And that means something to everyone.
For hello to pass over your vocal cords, it requires only a mustard seed of faith in our great God. In addition to your faithful prayers that God would open a door for His word, the gospel, also ask Him to give you everything you need to greet people in His name and be a blessing to whomever He puts in your path.