There’s a first time for everything: first steps and first kisses, a first time driving a car or buying a home. Everything is new, and we find ourselves in completely uncharted territory.
There are firsts in our Christian faith as well. The first time we heard about Jesus, the first Bible we ever owned, or the first time we volunteered for something at church.
Yet there’s one first that always seems the scariest: the first time we became vocal about our faith and explain to someone else how he or she can become a Christian.
Della, a mother of two in Austin, Texas, remembers the day she first talked with someone about her faith. She had been a reading tutor for a 17-year-old student named Erin who came from an atheistic family. Della had talked with Erin briefly before about her lack of faith, but they’d never had a chance to talk about Christianity.
When Della came to Erin’s house for tutoring one night, Erin asked if Della could take her to a friend’s party after their session.
“At first, I was thinking, ‘What an inconvenience,’” remembers Della. “I said yes, but I didn’t really want to. Then I realized this was my chance. I had been praying for an opportunity to have a conversation the whole way there.”
So, on the drive over to Erin’s friend’s house, Erin and Della started talking about the huge Christmas Eve party Erin’s parents threw every year. “Your family celebrates Christmas bigger than any other atheists I know,” Della joked with Erin.
But that started a conversation about spiritual things. Della asked Erin, “What exactly do you know about Jesus?”
“Nothing,” Erin responded. Della was amazed to hear that from someone who had grown up in the United States. “Well, except for what I’ve learned from ‘South Park’ and ‘Family Guy,’” Erin clarified. “But that’s probably not right.”
So Della explained about Jesus, starting with the virgin birth (which Erin snickered at) and moving up to His death on the cross and His resurrection. “I had to be careful not to use ‘church words’ with her because she didn’t know any of them,” Della says. “She wouldn’t know the words ‘prophecy’ or ‘repentance.’ ‘Sin’ was a completely foreign word to her.”
Erin thanked Della at the end of the conversation and said she’d really enjoyed it. Della was ecstatic: “I called my husband and my best friend, and we just celebrated together over the phone. To tell somebody about Jesus who didn’t know anything about Him broke through a fear barrier for me.” Erin didn’t become a Christian that night, but Della continues to pray for opportunities to talk to her more.
“I learned that when it was God’s timing, it was very natural,” she says. “It was still scary because I wasn’t used to it, but I just had to push through my fears.”
It all started with Della’s prayers for opportunity as she asked God to open her eyes to the people around her so she could see their need for a Savior.
As Della found, the holidays often open doors for spiritual conversations. Whether you are at a holiday party, enjoying Christmas dinner with your extended family or looking at lighted homes with a neighbor, this is a time of joyful interaction.
Many people will listen to your words that Christ is the “reason for the season.”
Here’s a handy acronym to follow in telling others about the reality of Jesus: LET US.
Love should always be our motivation. People should see it in our eyes and facial expressions, hear it in our voices, and witness it in our attitudes and actions.
Establish rapport by finding common ground and listening to what interests the person you are talking with.
Talk about Jesus. It’s easy to get sidetracked on religions and churches. Many people have bitter memories — real or imagined — about these peripheral issues. Stay focused on the person of Jesus.
Use stories. Follow the example of the New Testament believers and tell the true story of how Christ has changed your life and the lives of others.
String together questions. Asking questions can help lead to a discussion of the gospel. “Did your family have any religious traditions during the holidays?” “Where do you see yourself on your spiritual journey?” “Would you like to know, personally, the God to whom you've prayed all your life?”
How have you brought Christ into Christmas as you’ve interacted with those who don’t know Him?
For some, traditions center around holidays, such as Thanksgiving. But traditions can come in all shapes and sizes.
Keeping with God’s growth plan in 2015 and what I have learned from failing with my New Year’s resolutions in the past.
Perhaps this Halloween is the perfect opportunity to respond selflessly in love and care for our neighbors, as well as a way to fight our tendency to isolate.
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