Wednesday, April 05, 2006

the "E" word part 2

Have you ever considered that just telling people that you are a follower of Jesus sets the stage for sharing your faith? Once they know they will watch. You do not have to be able to win arguments or quote theology. Of course, some will look for an opportunity to find inconsistancy in our confession, but I believe that others subconsciously want to see something real-something they can trust in. When you think about it, all I need to do is live my life in Christ before others and they will have questions.

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a “gentle” and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
Explain my faith? Answer questions? You might say, “no way!” But questions are actually what we are waiting for. Yes, some of the questions will be tough. But that is Ok. Why? Because we don’t have to have all the answers. I believe many Christ-followers are intimidated by the “E” word (evangelism) because they have an informational approach in mind. They believe that the key issue is the ability to engage in debate-to be the Bible answer man. They don’t feel articulate enough to field all the intimidating questions that might be thrown their way. I am convinced that we need to transcend this paradigm and discover a simpler approach. Let’s call this the “incarnational Gospel approach”.

“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.” 2 Cor. 3:2-3 The Message

If Jesus is truly at the center of my life, He will be at work. His Spirit will be teaching lessons, making changes, and providing experiences. All these become “story material” in my life. People are fascinated with stories of God intersecting every-day-life. Authentic moments of trust in Christ from our lives are what we “explain” to onlooking questioners. When they see the difference He is making in our experience they will eventually want more information. That is when we can share the hope we have in Christ.

I said this method is simple. I did not say it was easy. It is often hard to truly live for Christ. It can be even harder to live it out in front of an unbelieving audience. But it is “gentle and respectful”. And gentleness is always influencial. This approach provides real evidence of the life of Christ. It eliminates so many arguments about historical facts or philosophies of religion. It takes the focus off of getting all the facts straight and theology totally correct. It cuts right to the heart of the matter-whether or not my faith is real.

“If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:15-16 The Message

I am to be good news. My message is my life. Or I should say, His life, being lived in me. I am to live it out in the open. Not as a glaring spot-light blinding people and causing them to turn away. But as a gentle candle lighting a pathway in a dark world, respectfully showing Jesus as the only real alterative to the empty life that the world offers. I believe this is the wisdom that God has given us concerning the “E” word.

What’s more is if you shine your light now, you will have a special surprise in eternity.

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever.” Dan. 12:3

May your gentle wisdom shine. May it shine and provide warmth and direction for others. May you turn many to Christ. And may God cause you to shine like the stars forever.


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