For so many Christians, sharing their faith and hope in Jesus Christ is something we know we should do, but it is something we simply don’t do.
I was struck by a survey done by Lifeway Research in August 2012 that found that 80 percent of the people surveyed believed that they “have a personal responsibility to share my religious beliefs about Jesus Christ with non-Christians.” Good news, right? But in the same study, 61 percent of those surveyed said that in the past six months they had not shared their faith with anyone, and 48 percent had not invited anyone to attend a church service or program. So, if we know that we should share our faith, why don’t we?
For many people, I believe that it boils down to fear. Satan only has a few weapons in his arsenal, but among them, and potentially the greatest weapon he uses against Christians, is fear. We’re afraid we won’t know what to say. We’re afraid of looking foolish or being made fun of. We're afraid of not having all the answers. And we're afraid of rejection, embarrassment or not being liked.
But here is the reality with fear in life. We have one of two choices: We can allow fear to control our lives or we can choose to control our fear. I recently heard a quote that was attributed to Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, that said this: “The root of anxiety is unfulfilled responsibility.” Now, I don’t know if this quote is fully accurate or not. But I do believe that there is some truth in it. And could it be that some of our fear, some of our anxiety regarding sharing our faith, exists because we know we are not acting on a responsibility that God himself is nudging, pushing, shoving, encouraging and challenging us to do?
Many of us misunderstand what God asks us to do. In 1 Peter 3:15, it says, “But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” What are we actually being asked to do here? We are being told to be ready, with gentleness and respect, to give the reason for our hope in Christ. We are to be ready to share our story.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus says this, “…and you will be my witnesses.” What exactly does a witness do? If you witness a car accident and you are called into court, what, as a witness, are they asking you to do? You will be asked to share your experience – what you saw, what you know. You wouldn’t be asked to share your expert testimony on “brake stopping distance” or “coefficients of friction on wet pavement” or “airbag deployment.” Why? Because that’s not what you know.
Part of getting over the fear of sharing our faith is to be prepared. One of the simplest ways to prepare is to just think through your story with three simple questions.
• First, ask yourself, “What was my life like before I knew Jesus?” In other words, how were you living your life before you started living your life for Jesus? What was it like? How did you feel? Where were you headed in life? What did you struggle with?
• Second, ask yourself, “How did I come to know Jesus?” Simply put, explain why and how you came to know Jesus Christ. What was it that helped you make the decision? What were the circumstances surrounding your decision to received Jesus Christ into your life?
• Third, ask yourself, “What is my life like now that I know Jesus?” What changed in your life? How has trusting Jesus made a difference in your life? How do you feel about life now that is different than before? Where are you headed in life? What kind of hopes do you have now that you know Christ?
It truly is a privilege to be able to share our faith with others. The reality is, if you know Jesus as your savior, the main reason you do is probably because someone invited you to church where you heard about Jesus, or someone shared Jesus with you.
We have the opportunity to share the light of Jesus with those around us, and it is each of our responsibilities to do so. Easter is roughly a month away, and it is a time when so many people are much more open to going to church and much more open to spiritual things.
I would like to present an encouragement and a challenge to all of us. First, be praying for God to give you the opportunity to invite someone to your church for Easter – and then do it. Secondly, be praying for you to have the opportunity to share the hope you have in Jesus.
Can you imagine the impact for Christ if each and every one of us “paid our faith forward” and took the opportunity to simply share our story, our hope in Jesus?