Sharing Faith by Living distinctively Christian lives

It is hard to begin the conversation about faith. In fact, making plans to work out the best way of introducing Jesus into the conversation is not ideal! A far better way is to talk about Jesus in a natural way, prompted by the other person. Living distinctive Christian lives will help those conversations to start.

Because the most natural way for a conversation to begin is by answering a question.

Living a distinctive life will get the attention of other people.  They will see that you are different from other people. They will see those differences in the values, attitudes and sense of purpose that you have.  And that will prompt them to ask, why are you like that?

This article looks at living a distinctive life that will prompt people to ask, why do you follow Jesus? When we answer this question, we pray that it will lead to sharing our faith in a natural way.

Why does living distinctively help us share our faith?

In the Talking Jesus Course, we cover living a life which is distinctive.  Distinctive means to get noticed, or to stand out in some ways. For faith-sharing, Jesus said we needed to stand out, like a light on a hill, or a light for a room! We actually don’t have a choice but be distinctive, because Jesus told us to (Matthew 5 vs 15).

But being distinctive for Jesus isn’t because of some command or set of rules.  A life which is overflowing with the love of Jesus will, by nature, have that light.In our culture, there are lots of ways of being distinctive.  For instance, some will choose a particular car or the way they dress. Sometimes people can’t help but be distinctive.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we couldn’t help but be distinctive because of our life in Jesus?

It’s not what we say, it’s how we say it

When I was 16, I moved to London from Lancashire.  In Lancashire, I was like everyone else–northern! I blended into the background at school somewhat. But in London, where I went to college, people noticed my accent differed from theirs. So much so I remember other students getting me in the corridor with a high-5. On one occasion, by someone I had never met before! All that from an accent. I was the lad from the north.  People asked me about what it was like in the North.

In the same way, how we live our lives as Christians, what we say, and how we act can be distinctive. We can stand out from the crowd. ‘More than the sum of its parts’ makes for a distinctive Christian life.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Christians don’t have the monopoly on being kind, loving, unselfish, and there to help others, especially at the time of writing (Covid!). Nor many of the other suggestions I am going to make in this article. But if you put them all together, then you will stand out from the norm.

And like I found, as a northern lad in London, that will bring about questions. And those questions may lead to sharing faith.

Distinctive Christian lives prompt questions

1 Peter 3 vs 15 says

But in your hearts revere 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.

It’s easier to answer a question than work out how to ‘get Jesus in’ to a conversation!
Have you heard of the 5 love languages? I realised that I could use the idea for sharing my faith with other people.

The basic principle is this: not everyone experiences being loved and cared for in the same way.

People experience care by:

  • Receiving gifts
  • Touch
  • Time
  • Being encouraged
  • Being served – doing things for people

As Christians, gravitate to the ‘serving others’ format. But we could say we are giving loving service when we do any of the above points. We can show we care, but unless the other person feels cared for, then how much difference have we made?

In short, love has to mean something to have an impact.
You can read more about how you might do that in this article on sharing faith through the 5 languages of love.

Live a distinctive Christian life by being a “trustpilot” ambassador for Christ

Are you familiar with Trustpilot?

I look for a Trustpilot rating when I am shopping online to give me confidence of where I am buying from.

But I will also go to people I trust in my network of friends and ask them for their opinion. In fact, I trust the opinion of friends more than anything.

A few years ago, people tended to trust the reviews and opinions of experts for decision making. But today, you are as much, if not more, likely to value most the viewpoint of a friend.

The bible urges us to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5 verse 20). And we can understand that as people who have experienced what it is like to have faith in Jesus.

When our friends have questions about Jesus, they are more likely to ask us rather than consult an expert. Be that a book, or even the local minister. Most people outside of the church don’t have the kind of relationship with the local minister to talk to. But they have a relationship with you. 

For serving, don’t go large… go smaller and more often.

Big isn’t always the best. Consider a diamond – small and beautiful.

Doing something big as a church is often expensive. Such expenses come as time, money, and resources – including human ones! Though there is the right time and place to do big things, for many churches it isn’t practical. It is often better to think small.

By doing something smaller and more frequently, it is more sustainable. It is also more likely you can include people from the local community in the project. This leads to a sense of trust and conversations as people serve alongside each other.

And with greater frequency, more people will connect and see what you are doing.

Just one thing: please don't think that simply doing something is enough to share faith. It's important to be willing to say something as well. 

Mind your language–season with salt! Distinctive Christian lives should be salty.

The bible often refers to salt. Its use was quite significant. In sermons, we often refer salt to as a preservative, but people also used salt in the offerings in the temple. In offerings, they used salt because of its symbology in the culture of friendship. In fact, it was offensive to not have salt as part of a meal. And so, salt in the temple practices showed a friendship relationship with God. (Leviticus 2 verse 13. And Ezekiel 43 verse 24)

In the New Testament we read:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

(Colossians 4 vs 6).

Imagine if you were the person known for always being positive. The person of peace, always encouraging, never shouting. The one who is full of grace in every situation.

The friend who is the example of the friendship Jesus brings.

A practical tip to live a distinctive life: care for your personal discipleship

All these things may be challenging if we do it in our own strength. But there is a way.

  • Pray
  • Read your bible
  • Spend time with other Christians – though not exclusively ! Otherwise, who would we share our faith with?

It is said that the five most significant friendships we have will shape who we are.

If that is true, then spending time with God in these ways will deepen our faith. That would make the other ways of living distinctively more natural.

But remember, one great way of building our discipleship strength is by putting our faith into action. Lifting weights are to strength training as sharing faith is to discipleship.

The question that remains…

Living a life that gets you noticed may not be something that gets you excited. Who wants to stand out from the crowd? Well, Jesus said that we shouldn’t hide our light. His light in us. It is challenging. But by living distinctive Christian lives we can share in God’s mission of bringing hope to the world.

I would encourage you, live a distinctive Christian life.

Who to contact

Revd Andy Gray, Faith Sharing Enabler