Sharing Jesus in Our Turbulent Times
“For the times they are a-changin’”. Bob Dylan famously wrote and sang these words in 1964. He could have written them in 2019. Today we live, work, and play in a culture and among people who believe very differently to us. Of course, this is not new and it should not be surprising; we have not been called by God to fit in but to stand out (Matt. 5:14). Neither should it scare us; God is on the throne and history is moving towards His glorious end (Rev. 21:1-4). But it does present us with particular opportunities and challenges as we seek to reach out and to share Jesus with others. So, let me suggest three simple ways we can be a faithful witness to Jesus in our changing and turbulent times.
Be authentic: When we share Jesus with someone what matters is not just the words on our lips but also the example of our lives. In 1 Thessalonians 1:5, the Apostle Paul writes, “…our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake”. When Paul was with the church at Thessalonica they believed the gospel to be true not simply because of his powerful preaching but also because of his authentic living. One of the ways we can be a witness to Jesus is simply by being authentic; being open about our joys, our pain, our trials, and how Jesus has been and continues to be faithful through it all.
Be hospitable: What really got the religious leaders riled up about Jesus was not just his kindness to people of ill repute (“sinners”), but that he ate with them (Luke 15:1)! In fact, it is remarkable how often Jesus would sit down to eat with all different kinds of people. Just read through the Gospel of Luke (5:29-30; 7:34, 37; 11:37; 14:1-24; 15:1-2). One of the ways we can extend the welcome of God to people far from God is to share a meal with them in our home. As Sam Chan says in his excellent book, ‘Evangelism in a Skeptical World’, “Most people are uncomfortable sharing private matters of values and worldviews—things like politics and religion—in public places. But in the private spaces of our homes, around food, our friends are more likely to talk about matters related to religion, especially if we show them it is safe to do so.” Who could you invite over to share a meal in your home?
Be ready: One of the most effective tools we possess to share Jesus with others is our testimony—the story of how we became a Christian and how God continues to work in our lives. Whether it is dramatic or seemingly ordinary, every Christian has a story of being awakened to and changed by the grace of God in Jesus. And our testimony is just that; it’s ours. While our non-Christian friends can argue against a truth claim, there can be no argument against our personal story. This is why we must be ready to share our story of grace with others. How can we do that? Rico Tice, author of Honest Evangelism, helps us by breaking it down into four questions:
- What was I like before? Tell the story about how you were living in God’s world without reference to him and share examples of that.
- What happened? My eyes were opened to the fact I needed rescue, there would be a judgment, Christ died to forgive me, he rose and is Lord.
- What difference has it made? Jesus says in John 10:10 that he gives life to the full. So how have I been flourishing since I’ve been following Jesus? It’ll be costly too of course, but how is it wonderful?
- What about you? The great thing to do at the end of a testimony is to leave it open and say ‘Now, what do you make of that?’
As Christians, we are not just recipients of God’s grace, we are also participants in God’s mission; we have the great privilege and joy of being used by God to see others come to know the great love of God. So, let’s together be authentic, be hospitable, and be ready to share the story of what Jesus has done for us, for the good of others and the glory of God.
With you on the journey,