Friday, March 26, 2010

Radical obedience, Part X

9:23 p.m. Today's project is to power past the fear of sharing Christ with unbelievers, through the power of the Holy Spirit!

In Part IX, I shared ideas on starting a witnessing conversation, whether with strangers or with loved ones and friends. With strangers, we earn the right to be heard with kindness and genuine interest in their concerns; with loved ones and friends, we earn the right to be heard with kindness and genuine interest in their concerns! The only difference is the amount of time an unsaved person has had "to see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven," as Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16.

Why do all of us experience fear in witnessing? Our message is true, and truly beautiful. Acceptance of Jesus as Savior means love, hope, acceptance and cleansing of a guilty conscience before God--blessings many people have never known. Our message is 100% good news!

Our witness is real and reflects God's character. In the case of loved ones, colleagues or friends, they have noticed a "different spirit" about us. They may have asked us how we remain cheerful in the daily grind, or don't hold grudges or backbite; they've noticed and commented on our honesty and discretion. It's obvious that the person likes and respects our ability to "agree to disagree agreeably" on issues that could cause enmity. We have been "up-front" about being a Christian. We've been a good witness, and more importantly, we have been praying for them! But we haven't actually shared the gospel in simple terms, offering them eternal life. Typically, our days are littered with missed--or avoided-- opportunities to open the conversation!

Then the moment arrives when the Holy Spirit has put all the ducks in a row: He has told you to share Christ with the person today; given you a desire to pray for them to be saved, forgiven and begin to "walk in newness of life" as Romans 6:4 describes it. And to take away any doubt, the Holy Spirit has arranged for you to talk to them alone, in the perfect time and place!! And though you may be fixated on your fear and what you are going to say, remember that the Spirit has been preparing them to have a listening ear and softened, receptive heart! They already want what you have--now offer it to them!

I can't tell you, of course, what topic of common ground you will open with, but you need to help them know that Jesus has made you the person you are today, much different from before you made a commitment to Christ. Share that you didn't know what would happen if you became born again, but you knew that every other path, program or plan had failed to straighten out your life (the "short version" of your testimony is important to have prepared in your mind ahead of time!) and that no matter what you tried, even if you'd achieved your goals and had success, something was missing. Actually, Some One was missing! It's often said that we are created with a God-shaped hole in our hearts, a hole only He can fill!

Whether the Spirit directs you to share the scripture Romans 10:13, "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved," or alternatively, to tell how you prayed to accept the Lord, asked forgiveness of your sins, and asked Jesus to save you, go for it! If they are receptive (as evidenced by thoughtful comments and questions) go ahead and ask them if they want to pray to accept the Lord!

No matter the outcome, you will have been obedient, shown your love for that person, and very possibly had a part in saving a soul from hell! Proverbs 11:30 says, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise."

Remember the person who led you to the Lord, invited you to church, or went forward with you at an evangelistic crusade or altar call? Listen to the Holy Spirit as they did, and join them along with millions of other brothers and sisters in this "new community of faith, empowered by the Spirit to form a life of radical obedience." (Iain Duguid)

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