Are you one of the natural faith sharers or does the thought of speaking about your faith make you feel weak at the knees? The majority of people, in the imagery presented by Mark Greene in Fruitfulness on the Frontline, find it a little like visiting the dentist and then having to open your mouth. And yet it is part of who we are meant to be as disciples of Jesus. In the Bible we read, ‘always have a reason for the hope that [we]… have.” (1 Peter 3.15).
So there’s a tension in what we must do, and that which we feel easy about doing.
But think for a moment, what would it be like if it didn’t feel so much like a visit to the dentist, and more like a visit with a dear friend…or going out for a coffee…or chilling besides a lake.
So where do the tensions come from?
Many places. But here is just one. Pressure.
Some things are good to come out of pressure. Thinking about coffee, an espresso comes from the pressure of steam being passed through the granules. You couldn’t travel very far on a flat tyre: tyre pressure is important. Pressure cookers would be completely useless without….. well, pressure.
But as humans we don’t always thrive under pressure. Certainly not if we are under it constantly. And the constant thought of feeling we have to shoe horn our faith sharing into every conversation may just make us more miserable than joyful. So here’s some good news.
The pressure is off.
Now I am not saying you don’t have to do the sharing and engage in evangelism. Remember I said that that is actually part of being a follower of Jesus? However, it’s the reasons we have to feel we must share our faith that often get us down, and result in not doing anything at all.
More: feed the monster
In our modern society there is endless measurement and a ‘feed the monster’ mentality. The monster, whichever or whatever it is, just wants MORE. More money. More funding. More customers. More profit…. And measurement is designed around that MORE of everything. And I think that that has seeped into our thinking about faith sharing.
In other words, faith sharing has only one purpose: more people in church. The implication of this dangerous thought is that you will need brilliant answers and irrefutable arguments, and whoever you talk to needs to believe in Jesus right now! Pressure…and also, if I might say, completely disrespectful of the person you are talking to. The gospel is full of humility and peace, and this attitude I have just described is anything but that.
Yes. more people in church may be a result, but that isn’t what I read of what the good news of Jesus Christ is in the big picture from Scripture. God’s purpose seems to me through the death and resurrection of Jesus to transform the whole of creation, and that when we choose to become followers of Jesus we are both transformed and become part of that process of joining in with God to do the transforming. Church is when we meet with others who have been likewise transformed. A growing church is a by product rather than a target of that transformative and restorative power of God.
Good news, then, is no longer just telling people about Jesus and getting our word in or having a brilliant persuasive argument on the tip of our tongue. Instead it is love and grace. It asks how we can transform the places where we are and the people we meet, bringing out the best in them. Honouring them. And it will take time. Love and grace is to building the church as pennies and pounds are to saving money… take care of the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves: take care of being God’s sign of love and grace, and the growth of the church will take care of itself.
The journey to faith for the majority of people takes time and is not an overnight conversion story. Usually the story is ‘I wasn’t a follower of Jesus, I am now. I don’t know quite what happened.’ There are people who come to know Jesus from a place where they don’t know Jesus very quickly, but that is not the norm.
Natural transformers and natural faith sharing
If we learn to be natural transformers in the places where we are by sharing the love and grace of God that we have experienced, people are more likely to ask what makes us different. You don’t do this or that SO THAT they will ask. You just know that if you are being salt and light in the world and sharing God’s grace and love freely, then they MAY ask. And the answer when they do is simple, again suggested by Mark Greene: I do it because I follow Jesus, and I think that this is what Jesus would want me to do. If they don’t ask, you do it anyway.
It will take time, and you don’t need all the answers. But you aren’t a cup of espresso, a tyre, or even a cooker. You are a human being created in the image of God, and loved beyond your comprehension. His yoke is easy…and His burden is light.
The pressure is off.
Faith Sharing Enabler
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