The thought of telling others about our faith is uncomfortable for so many of us! We may know of the Great Commission – to go and make disciples of all men – but still, we wonder if it’s really kind, or tolerant, or loving, to try to push our faith on other people. So often they don’t want to hear, and it can be so scary to try to tell them!
Still, the Bible is clear – Jesus tells us to spread the word about who He is and what He has done! Even if He hadn’t, we see people struggling to find meaning and fulfilment in their lives, and we know that Jesus is the ultimate answer, and that true joy and peace comes from Him – so of course, we want the people we love to know Him!
It’s so exciting to know Him! When we first discover Jesus, our impulse is to tell everybody, because the Good News is so good! Often, with experience of telling others comes fear, and we find our enthusiasm fading. But we still love God and love the people He has created.
Love is the key – it’s why we tell others, and it informs the way we tell others so that we don’t “Bible bash” them or argue with them – I don’t think many people have been argued into heaven! So it’s about spreading the good news of Jesus so that people can receive it, and receive Him – because He loves them, and so do we!
Nicky Gumbel, author of the Alpha series, uses five “Ps” to talk about how we can best share the gospel. The first of these Ps is Presence. In Matthew 5, Jesus refers to His disciples as the salt and light of the earth, and instructs them to let their good deeds shine before others so that they will see the disciples’ deeds and glorify God! In those days, salt was used to preserve food – to stop it from going bad. So Jesus says that His disciples should stop society from going bad, and should let their good deeds shine! And it’s the same for us today. Our ability to bring people to God is directly influenced by the kind of lives we are living. If they are loving, kind, compassionate, different kinds of lives – lives that meet the needs of those around us and through which love shines daily – then our influence will be magnified.
The second P is Persuasion. This is very different from another P, pressure, which probably makes most of us turn tail! 1 Peter 3 instructs each of us to have a reason for our faith ready when we are asked, but to do so with gentleness and respect. Gentleness means that we are never trying to force someone to see our point of view, and respect means that we listen to theirs – the conversation is never one-sided. So it is good to know about the reasons to believe what we believe – the reality of Jesus, His death and resurrection. But it is also good to respect the views of others. Like persuading others to get into lifeboats, leaving a sinking ship, persuading them about Jesus is an act of love. Many people may not believe us, but that doesn’t mean we should stop persuading them!
The third P is Proclamation – communicating the message about Jesus. It’s saying to others, “Come and see!” Andrew did this in John 1 – he met Jesus and recognised him for who He was, then went straight to his brother, Peter, and told Peter to come and meet Jesus! We don’t know much about Andrew, but we know that Peter was one of the most influential figures in the new testament! And we can’t all influence the world like Peter, but we can all influence a few people, like Andrew. It’s also about telling people of the changes Jesus had made in us – “this is who I was before, and this is who I am now!” The Church is filled with amazing testimonies of people who Jesus has transformed, from breaking addictions to setting us free from guilt, to changing the desires of our hearts.
In the Bible, people questioned the blind man healed by Jesus. His reply was, “I don’t know the answers to all your questions. But once I was blind, and now I see.” There’s no answer for that! You have a story too, and many people who won’t be swayed by an intellectual argument, will be influenced by your testimony. So what’s your story? And who can you tell?
There are two more Ps – Power, and Prayer.
Power is not about how powerful we are – it’s about how powerful the Holy Spirit is. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 speaks about the Holy Spirit coming with power and with deep conviction. It’s the Holy Spirit who pours the love of God into our hearts, who convicts us of sin and who comes with activity – like healing and breaking free from addiction. We can’t do that, no matter how powerful our testimony. That’s something God does.
And lastly, Prayer. So often when someone comes to Christ, we discover that someone has been praying – maybe for years! As we care for people, we can pray for them to know Christ. And when we pray for others, we can also pray for ourselves, because for every person who excitedly comes and meets Christ when we invite them, there are a few who don’t – they may even mock or ridicule you for asking them. So we pray for courage and wisdom as we share the good news of Christ.
I once went out for a meal with my family, and my dad noticed that the waiter’s name tag had a Shona name on it. Being from Zimbabwe, he commented on it, and the man responded that yes, he was from Zimbabwe – but a small town that nobody had ever heard of! My dad asked which town, and the man named it – it was the town my great grandmother was from! “Oh!” the man responded when we told him, “What was her name?” When he learned it, he told us that she was the one who had taught him about Jesus in Sunday school when he was young! Decades later, we saw the fruit of her sharing the Good News – this man knew Christ.
You may not see the fruit of the gospel you share, but as Paul tells us, it (the gospel) is the power of Jesus to change lives – so let’s share it!