2 False Assumptions About Sharing Our Faith

Anybody who grew up in church hearing about the great commission has had to deal with two false assumptions surrounding the issue of sharing our faith:

  1. I have to achieve a certain level of competence and have my life together before God can use me.

and

  1. If I were transparent and let people see my weaknesses and struggles, it would invalidate what I had to say about Christ.

Both are reasonable thoughts. I mean think about it, it’s way too easy to compare ourselves to the champions of the faith. We can say “Paul got knocked off a horse by God and was blinded for three days. Of course his faith will be greater than mine.” Or how about “Moses spoke openly with God, He doesn’t do that with just anybody.” This one we’re all guilty of: “I don’t have a crazy testimony; just wouldn’t know what to say.”

All that’s a load of bull.

As with everyone, we all try to and funnel our circumstances into something we think we can control. But as Hebrews 11:1 points out, “Faith is being…certain of what we do not see.” In other words, it isn’t really faith until we get beyond what we can control.

And when we can’t control something everything goes out of whack. We are afraid that if we follow God where leads us, our incompetence will expose us and we’ll look like failures.

Let’s all remember that Paul had to go through years of prison, torture, name-calling, slanderous speech and even hot pursuit. In the early days of his ministry he was continuously kicked out of towns and synagogues for his fearless teaching and bold speech. He even narrowly escaped death in Damascus by being lowered over the wall in a waste basket (Acts 9:23-25).

Talk about humbling.

Years later he shared that out of all his rich years of experience, he singles out that failure in Damascus as being among the very most important of his life (2 Cor 11:32-33). It was important because it taught him that out of he cannot rely on himself. He is not in control of his life.

So what did Paul do that we must also do? “Boast of the things that show my weakness”(11:30). Paul chose to live under submission to the Holy Spirit. In doing so he could reap the rewards of God’s work and not his own.

Little-ant-caught-weight-lifting-resizecrop--

Trusting in the Holy Spirit can be unsettling. On occasion, He might even decide to let us look like failures just to get the message across. That’s why we need our inadequacies. Without them we will never understand our need for true strength.

Realizing and tapping into that true strength can only come through understanding and awakening to our weakness.

In a sense God is saying “You’re better the way you are—weak. That way you aren’t even tempted to trust in your own abilities. I get the glory and you have to fumble around the way you do, “for my power is made perfect in your weakness”(2 Cor 12:9).

It is not the hardship in itself that helps us know God better. It is when we embrace the hardship by faith, seeing it as an opportunity to experience God’s power, that we grow towards maturity.

So, to answer those two false assumptions: no, we don’t have to have it all together to share our faith. Also, that we must embrace our weaknesses and boast in them so that in our humility we can let the light of Christ shine forth into the darkness.

We reveal the reality of the transforming power of the gospel best when we are authentic, honest, and open about our weaknesses.

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Does God Need Your College Degree?

Before someone jumps down my throat over the title, let me explain. 

Recently I was recommended the book “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. The purpose was to help identify areas I could clean up in my writing. It’s been a fantastic tool and I’m already implementing a few of the ideas it mentions. One of the early chapters is about fighting clutter—trimming the wordiness fat and making clear what you really mean.

If anyone reading this post has an english degree you’ve probably already spotted plenty of things you’d love to mark with a red pen. So there you have it! God can definitely use your english degree to help you point out and argue my point, haha.

Here’s my real question: do we give the gospel a fair chance?

I think there are two ways we christians damage the gospel:

  1. We’re either too shy or scared to share our faith openly, afraid of doing it injustice.
  2. We’re over-confident in our knowledge and abilities and turn people off by our jargon and pomp.

Doesn’t God’s word promise to comfort us? I’m no public speaker though I’ve found confidence that the LORD will give me the right words to say at the right time. When you know the truth and are passionate about something, fears and uncertainties all seem to slip away.

When sharing our faith and proclaiming the mystery of the gospel “which is Christ”(Col 1:27) we also tend to scare people away by our methods of approach. Don’t let your presentation of the gospel fend people off by how you give it.

Will someone who didn’t grow up in church understand christian-ese when you speak it to them? Of course not! Don’t dialogue with someone you can talk to. Don’t interface with anybody.

Here’s a quote from Zinsser’s chapter about clutter: “By using a more pompous phrase in his professional role he not only sounds more important; he blunts the painful edge of truth.” 

Never dumb down the truth of the gospel by catering to the idea that people will always flee when you spotlight their sin. Jesus is offensive to our sinful nature. Be loving but firm. We’re all in the same boat; we all need a Savior.

What about the college degree thing? Oh yeah. We’re always trying to limit God’s abilities. Don’t let your occupation, social status or education level impede or impose on God’s use for you.

Remember: we are the plan. It is ultimately the Holy Spirit who convicts unbelievers of sin and compels them to repentance but we are the mouthpieces.

Be obedient and open your mouth; God will give you what to say.

Clean the clutter.

Simplify, simplify.

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Speak Up!—The Deaf-Bed Atheist

Ever heard the expression “there are no atheists in foxholes”?

Sources are uncertain as to the origin of the famous saying though most pin it to the WWII Battle of Bataan in 1942. Although the adage occasionally means that all soldiers in combat are “converted” under fire, it is most often used to express the belief of the speaker that all people seek a divine power when they are facing an extreme threat. The quote is also referenced when discussing the opposite effect — that warfare causes some soldiers to question their existing belief in God due to the death and violence around them.

Although not everyone goes to war and not all reach the same conclusion or faith in God, you can just about guarantee that all soldiers have thought about it at one time or another.

For Christians seeking to evangelize, this can be a tough barrier to get through. It’s hard enough preaching to an unrepentant brick wall who’s heard about Jesus from every angle and still refuses the truth of the gospel. But how do you reach those who’ve been hardened by life and death experiences and won’t listen?

Speak the truth.

It’s not up to us to soften the hearts of our listeners, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. It is our job to be obedient and to open our mouths.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!
Romans 10:14-15

At any risk the truth must be spoken.

History is riddled with accounts of people being converted on their death-bed. There’s something about knowing you’re at the end of the line and having no hope. That’s what makes Jesus so sweet to the believer — hope. We have assurance of new life in Christ Jesus. What does the deathbed atheist have? Nothing. Only a slow creeping shadow of doubt and fear.

So speak the truth and speak it plainly. Perishing sinners do not want your poetry, they want Christ.

Don’t stand idly by and add to the ranks of the deaf-bed atheists. Speak up!

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