I am passionate about Christians sharing their faith with those outside of the family of God. What I am not a big fan of is doing that without forming a relationship with people. I am not a fan of individuals pushing Jesus on those outside of God’s grace because I think that just turns people off to Jesus and paints Jesus and Christians in a negative light. And believe you me we do not need any more negative impressions.
Let me share a real life story with you. I am standing in line with a friend in Glendale, AZ when a person who I have never met, nor a person who ever even took the time to strike up a conversation with me, reaches over and hands me this pamphlet. The question on the form in size 24 font reads: Are you 100% sure you will go to heaven? No soft shoe approach here. Let’s just get right to the heart of the issue. Skip the niceties and attack most people at their most vulnerable core. How sure are you that you are going to heaven?
Honestly, it depends on the day. Some days God and I are rocking and rolling. We are gelling at times. It is like I know exactly what God is thinking and I feel God’s presence clearly. Other days not so much. There are times when God feels distant. It is usually those days when sin gets in the way, and I am wrestling with something I have done to offend Him. Maybe I was rude to my kids because I was stressed by a major decision coming up and there are not clear answers. Or it was just one of those days where everything that could go wrong did and that was all before noon. Things just went downhill from that point on. So, the heaven question just bugged me. Why would you start there? Why plan on my vulnerability? Why not ease into a profound spiritual conversation? Are you trying to scare the Hell out me, literally? That is what the question is all about, how afraid of Hell are you? Enough to follow the seven easy steps to welcome Jesus into your heart on the following pages? Faith is not that easy. If it were, I would encourage every Christian to go to Office Depot and print out thousands of these magical pamphlets, and we can change the world.
Sharing your faith starts with a relationship which this man never wanted to engage in with me. He sat next to me for lunch and never stopped to come over and ask ”do you have any questions about what I gave you?” Just suppose this was a divine appointment set up by the Almighty Himself and I was ready to take that leap of faith. There was no one there to help my jump and provide a soft landing. All I could think in this was, what about me looked lost? What about me look like I needed Jesus? Am I giving off an aura that says, please help me I am lost? As I stepped back from this experience, I realized how angry the entire encounter made me. Upon further review, as I drilled down deeper on that emotion, what hit me was that you know nothing about me and you are making assumptions all of which are erroneous. Why didn’t you start a conversation with me? We could have shared a meaningful moment. Instead, you just made sure by passing out a flyer with your church name and address on it that I will never darken the doors of your building.
Witnessing is all about relationships which take the time to nurture and develop. I love the story of Philip in Acts. As an angel of the God moved him, he went out from Jerusalem to Gaza and ran into an Ethiopian, eunuch. Here is the story.
“And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet, Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him… 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture; he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:27-31, 35-36
Philip shows us that sharing your faith, is about relationships. It is about being willing to walk alongside, to answer tough questions and being open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. My encounter was an opportunity missed. How in your life is God asking you to be a Philip? Pray for the chance to build a relationship and get the chance to be a faith sharing blessing to someone.