Do you find it easy to strike up a conversation and start talking about Jesus? Well done if you do! For a lot of people dropping the G-bomb into conversation is hard, even though it may be something we would love to do. This is my story about finding courage to be more outspoken. I hope it will encourage you to join me.
I have spent a lot of the last 2 years working on a project to convert the Old Bus Station in Central Milton Keynes into a venue that will house services that provide support to the homeless, vulnerable and those with mental health challenges in Milton Keynes. About 6 months ago I presented in front of a group of health care professionals about the venue and their potential use of the building. At the end we did a question and answer session, and I invited them to come and visit the Old Bus Station and take a look around for themselves one day.
One of the ladies contacted me later and asked if she and a couple of colleagues, one of which was her manager could come and have a look around. So I met them at the venue and did my little spiel and showed them around, while I was doing my little tour I heard the lady I had already met, say to her manager ‘I told you she was a force to be reckoned with.’ I asked her later what she meant – whether this was this a good thing or a bad thing. She said good definitely good, and that when I presented at the original meeting, she had been caught up in my passion and enthusiasm for the project and she just knew that she wanted to be part of this project and find out more.
Me being me, I was quite pleased with this, I was ‘a force to be reckoned with’ – get me! The next day in my prayer time God really challenged me, was I a force to be reckoned with for Him? When I talked about Him to people that didn’t know him was I infectious in my passion and enthusiasm for Him? Did I encourage people to be part of His world and want to find out more?
And do you know I don’t think I do. I asked myself some serious questions – why was I so enthusiastic about my project and not as enthusiastic about my God? I believed in both of them, I believed in the difference they can make to lives – but why wasn’t I ‘a force to be reckoned with’ for my God?
2 Corinthians it says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Meaning his grace is enough for me; He will support and strengthen His people under all their weakness. So we actually shouldn’t be worried, as we know that God will support and strengthen us. But whenever I think about talking to someone about God, there is a little question that always pops up in the back of my mind. But “what if…”
“What if… I tell them, in my own, slightly cack-handed, awkward, clumsy way and it’s super awkward?”
“What if… I fumble over all my words and actually tell them nothing?”
“What if… they think I’m weird?”
“What if… they reject me because they now know I’m a Christian?”
But I got thinking, I was so focused on what would happen if, and the best thing to do or what to say that I hadn’t even thought about why.
Why would we want to do that in the first place. So why would we tell others?
There are Biblical reasons. In Mark 16:15 it says: “And he said to them, go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature” and in Psalms 96:3, “Declare his glory among the nations. His wonders among all peoples’ and of course our great commission.” And in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
These are great motives for telling people about Jesus. I don’t think simple obedience is always enough. For me, the desire to tell others is totally based on what he has done for us in our own life. We see a great illustration of that in John 4: 28-30.
Previous to this Jesus has just met a Samaritan woman at a well, he chats to her and asks for some water.
“Then, leaving her water jar. The woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward him.”
Now, the Samaritan woman, had a bad reputation, she was known to have had five previous husbands and was now living with a man that wasn’t her husband, so people did not think much of her. If that was me I would be doing all I could to make people, see that I was actually alright and trying to get people to like me. And shouting about a man I’ve just met that claimed to be the Messiah would not be the way to do that! But this woman, did she care? NO! She made the decision to lay her water jar down and head into town and tell everyone about Jesus! She didn’t care what they would think of her. She just did it.
Winston Churchill said ‘Fear is a reaction; courage is a decision’. I take that to mean that our emotions make us fearful, but our inner strength and our courage are controlled by making a decision in our brain to react in a different way. Later on, in verse 39, we learn “…many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” The Bible is shows us that anyone with the right heart and passion can lead others to know Jesus, even a woman despised in her community. The Samaritan woman, made the decision to have courage and to tell others about what Jesus did for her, and so we should do the same, just tell people what Jesus has done for us.
So why should we tell others? Because of your personal testimony of what he has done for you.
I suppose it all comes back to whether we truly believe that God changes lives. Whether we truly believe in the power of the gospel. If we truly believed God would transform their worlds wouldn’t we be telling everyone? If we love people the way we claim to love people and like the Bible tells us to, why would we deny them what we’ve got?
The only reason we wouldn’t tell is a) we don’t actually believe it is going to work for them b) it won’t be a life changing moment for them or c) we’re afraid of A and B.
If we give in to fear, we put greater faith into our fear, rather than believe in the word of God. The enemy uses fear to stop us from telling others about God, but God is greater than anything that comes against us. I can honestly say that the biggest disappointments in my life are the times when I haven’t grabbed the opportunity to tell others about God.
By being in a relationship with God we have access to everything. Many relationships fail and fizzle out, not because people stop loving each other but because they stop trying. People lose their focus and get caught up in themselves. I think that’s why we may stop telling others our priority because at times we are not working hard enough on our relationship with God and somehow we lose our focus. We need to seek Him, keep our attention on Him, and only then will we feel his presence in our circumstances and be that force to be reckoned with that desires to share our good news.
God gave us a simple instruction “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” He made it really easy, go and make disciples – in other words go and lead others to Christ. We complicate this simple message, “how should I tell them?” “Who should I tell?” “What should I say?”
Courage comes in all shapes and sizes. Earlier this year me and my friend Kellie went to Spain and we went to a local river to swim. She decided she wanted to jump off the rocks into the water; it was high and the water was deep. She asked me to come and have a go and I’m like ‘not happening!’ She later told me that standing on the rock face looking down into the deep, deep water she almost didn’t do it. I was in awe. In my mind that was courage. She felt the fear and did it anyway. I asked why she didn’t want to jump and she said she didn’t want to hurt herself, she’s afraid of heights, but there were others queuing to jump, she didn’t want the embarrassing walk of shame back down the rocks.
The same can be said about talking to others about God. It ultimately boils down to our personal fears. We don’t want to jump because we don’t want to get hurt, whether that hurt is rejection, ridicule, embarrassment or a whole host of other things. After her jump Kellie was so exhilarated, pumped, and pleased with herself, that she did it again. Why? Because it was easier than she expected. She enjoyed the sense of achievement, and because she didn’t get hurt or embarrassed she knew she could do it again! So she knew her WHY, to prove to herself she could do something she knew she would be scared of but also capable of combating. Her HOW - well that was down to her, she balled up and jumped in, others dived, other just jumped in feet first. It was never for the HOW, it was always the WHY.
I wrote this in the run up to Remembrance Sunday. We remember annually the brave soldiers who laid down their lives for us during the world wars. If you go to many war memorials you will see the words of John 15:13: “Greater love had no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” In other words, there is not a greater expression of love, that that what Jesus went through for us. Tortured, humiliated, killed and separated from the Father because there is no greater way, no greater love than this, to lay down my life for you that I call friends.
So I am the why. You are the why. We are the why. He died for us. He did the hard part, all we need to do to play our part is to tell others about this great love and what Jesus has done for us.
And that’s why we need to conquer our fears to and make the decision to take courage. Courage in speaking to our friends, our family, the shop assistant, those who don’t know Jesus, about our individual and personal ‘why’. We should tell of what God has done for us, because He has done the greatest thing for us. When Jesus talks about going and making disciples of all nations, he doesn’t say how, but he says why…