Recently, I met a smart young man named Christian at a local coffee shop. He was minding his lonesome when I took the initiative with a brilliant and seamless question. “You a Grizzly fan?” Granted, it was lame, but that’s all it took. He wheeled around and starting talking.
Soon, he was telling me his philosophy of life. I listened patiently to his invention of belief, with parts pantheistic, parts humanistic, and a small pinch of Jesus thrown in like sea salt in soup. “When I see God, I’m going to ask him to send me back as a lion,” he concluded.
All the while he spoke, a kind of pressure was building in me. The more he shared, the more I realized that first, he was arguably seeking answers, and second, he was miserably lost in a diatribe of rambling syllables, contradictions and crazy notions.
He knew nothing about me; we hadn’t established any sort of relationship. Yet while he spoke, God was whispering, reminding and urging me to clearly connect Christian’s greatest need to the mystery of His message.
Jesus said, “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)
It’s this type of interaction that scares so many people. Talking to “strangers” about the gospel before any sort of relationship has been established. And I’ll admit it scares me, too, and can feel awkward at first, like I’m about to fall off a cliff.
Because I build relationships through evangelism, rather than for evangelism.
Some will say you should build a resume of trust first, before risking telling the mystery of the gospel. That helps, but it’s not essential. For me, losing an opportunity because of rejection is a risk I’m willing to take.
Because building relationships through evangelism means not waiting to share the secret of faith. If you wait to tell someone about the gospel, it not only contradicts the mandate of the gospel, but its counterintuitive to human instinct. We are all hardwired to find someone to tell what’s been whispered to us.
Recently, one of my children told me I was going to be a grandfather, but said it “wasn’t for public knowledge.” My wife, Ginnette, and I laughed over who would leak first. Technically, call me the sieve – I didn’t last 24 hours!
If the gospel is good news to tell, why aren’t we all sieves, leaking every chance we get?
In his book, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, author Roland Allen says, “Christian experience is always a secret, and the man who speaks of it to another always pays him a subtle compliment when he entrusts him with his secret of life.”
“The way, the truth and the Life…” began with a cacophony of languages accompanied by fire, consuming the dry philosophies and religious kindling of the first century. No man or woman who heard and received this Secret could hold it in. “God so loved…” was the most fundamental shift in human religious pursuit ever to happen, grounded in the person of Jesus Christ, whose example from the cross defined a new kind of love. “Father, forgive them.” How can any of us hold in that kind of secret?
The power of a secret is at our disposal, and it’s not our revved up human will. He’s given a name in the book of Acts. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, to be my witnesses…” The mysterious power of a secret is none other than God Himself.
So, where do we start in asking Him to build pressure inside of us, so like the Apostle Paul, we are “constrained by the love of Christ?” If there was a formula, it might look something like this:
Permission, plus time, plus grace to experiment.
And so my prayer for you is this: that you begin today to tell others about the hope inside you, trusting God to create opportunities to talk about the greatest secret ever revealed.
Originally posted at http://kevinjyoung.com.
Social distancing, so unprecedented for most of us, also raises particular questions for the Christian community. How do we do life differently during a global crisis like this?
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"It shouldn’t surprise you that people hold onto their beliefs and ideologies strongly. I know this because it’s exactly what I do."
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