Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sharing Jesus

Who is Jesus? Religions outside of Christianity say Jesus was a prophet, an enlightened teacher, or a spirit child created by the Father and “mother” in heaven. Some believe he was a man who displayed the Christ idea but was not God, did not suffer, and could not suffer for the sins of mankind. Others believe he was symbolic of “all the gods to which you pray,” was not crucified, didn’t really die, and did not rise from the dead.

There is clearly some confusion about Jesus. So who is Jesus? Truly, this is the most important question anyone can ever ask or answer for himself or herself; therefore, it is critically important for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ to share the truth about who Jesus is and what he's done for mankind.

There are many ways to share the gospel message. Here are a few.

Social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, blogs, etc.)
Through our lifestyle (living in such a way that others see Christ's influence in our lives)
In our relationships 
Sharing personal testimony
Street evangelism
Servanthood (acts of service/love that minister to the whole person)

Street evangelism is the most troublesome for me because it doesn’t allow others to see how we live our lives under the leadership and influence of Jesus Christ.  It’s often a forced conversation. In Matthew 28, Jesus clearly instructs us to make disciples of all nations. With street evangelism there is typically no follow-up, continued relationship, or discipleship.

In a recent study conducted by the Barna Group, there were absolutely no favorable comments about street witnessing among all the people they interviewed. Barna found that street witnessing actually creates barriers – mental and emotional obstacles – to Jesus. (Kinnaman, Dave and Lyons, Gabe, “Unchristian”, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 2007, p. 70) Barna concludes that the most effective evangelism efforts are relationship based.

Servanthood evangelism is most natural for me because I have experienced God’s compassion. It is a beautiful reflection of the solidarity God has demonstrated as he came to walk alongside us in our troubles, our pain, and the ugliness of our sin through the life of his son, Jesus Christ. In compassion, he chose to suffer with us. This reveals the sincerity of his love. Romans 2:4 accurately teaches that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. As we enter into difficult situations and serve others, our actions prove the sincerity of our love as well. “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”

In my lifetime, I have shared my faith through teaching, preaching, serving, and sharing my testimony in the local church, at Christian women’s events, during mission trips to other countries, in para-church ministries, through my blog, and in the way I live my daily life. Yes – it can be scary to share your faith and I don’t do it perfectly. I have definitely experienced anxiety in some of these situations, I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I’m still a complicated mess as a human being. BUT - I am extraordinarily grateful for all that Jesus Christ has done for me. My life has been pockmarked with some really ugly mistakes and bad choices. Through his death on the cross Jesus took the punishment for all of my sins. He did for me what I could not do for myself. He made me clean and made it possible for God to forgive me for all I’ve done wrong so that I can be at peace with myself and experience life with Him forever. He has also healed my heart from some very deep pain. I absolutely love sharing the greatness of who he is with other people.

Christ gave us two commands that impact evangelism:

1) The great commission: Go, share the greatest news the world has ever known, and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19-20)

2) The great commandment: Love God and your fellow man. (Matthew 22:37-40)

It’s so important for us to carefully steward the image of God and to be accurate reflections of his heart. My personal belief is that we are called to become the embodiment of the gospel message through our whole lives as we follow both of these commands and abide in Christ. Through our actions we bring the concepts of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love to life. (See 2 Corinthians 3:3)

It’s God’s will for us to share what we know. (Matthew 28:19-20)
We don’t have to do it eloquently. (1 Corinthians 1:17)
We are not to hinder the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:12)
God opens the door for us. (2 Corinthians 2:11-13)
We are to be known by our love. (John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:17-18, Ephesians 4:15)
We sow the seeds, but God is the Lord of the harvest and brings growth. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7, Matthew 9:37-38)
Jesus is with us as we share His message. (Matthew 28:20)
There is no other name by which to be saved. (Acts 4:12, John 14:6)

If you have never known the joy of a relationship with Jesus Christ and would like to learn more, see my page - "Knowing Jesus".

Love you all! Thanks for sitting a while with me here at The Warming House.