In the past weeks I have posted about what we call the Essentials of the Christian faith–characteristics that are not just recommended, but essential to mature faith. These are:
Individual worship and Corporate worship
Service within the body of Christ and to the world
Relationships with mature Christians
The final “Essential” is sharing your faith.
But sharing our faith brings us into conflict with a valued custom in our society: “faith is a private thing–best kept to yourself.”
While I understand such a value in a world of people who are not committed to the Lordship of Jesus, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those of us who belong to Jesus should share that value.
So, what exactly is “sharing your faith”?
When I was a brand new Christian I was shown how to use a tract that covered the basics of the gospel: our sin and need for forgiveness, Jesus’ perfect life and death in payment for our sin, that payment being given to us as a gift received through faith, and our need to follow in the Lordship of Jesus when we respond to Him in faith.
And I was told that I should share this with everyone I talked to–whether they wanted to hear it or not.
That didn’t work very well.
Jesus never did that. Instead, he built bridges with people by loving them, and then simply telling them the truth about who He is and why the Father sent Him.
That’s a pretty good approach for us as well. We are commanded to love others. So, building a relationship and showing them love is always a good thing. Then we can simply share with them what God is doing in our life.
Of course, that assumes we know what God is doing in our life.
Understanding that is pretty simple. We just have to look for what is happening in our life to bring us to the goals He has for us. In Galatians, Paul lists nine “fruit of the Spirit” which are in actuality personal characteristics of Jesus. In other words, the Spirit is at work changing us to be like Him. In Hebrews we are told that the difficulties we are allowed to go through are for the purpose of bringing us righteousness and peace. These are God’s goals for us, and by remembering that we can more easily understand what He is doing in our life.
Peter says we are to live and relate to others in such a way that people will see what God is doing and ask us about it. We are to be ready to give an account of the hope that God has given us. As we do this, it becomes an easy thing to do.
Sharing our faith isn’t a bad thing. Faith was never intended to be private. But sharing our faith isn’t done on a schedule or by walking through a set of steps. It is natural–organic, relational. We don’t need to “be good at it”. We only need to be willing. The Lord will give us opportunities and take it from there.