I walked into a wonderful conversation the other day. I, and other members of the church I now work at as the Interim Children’s Director, were hosting the Kids Zone at the George Washington Parkway Classic 10 Mile/5 K Run in Alexandria, VA. One of the volunteers asked me a simple question- How do you share your faith with others? It was really quite provocative because she wasn’t asking it as a litmus test for my walk but instead as a way to process something she’s been grappling with internally for a while now.
I was caught a little off guard but replied in a manner I often do when someone asks me something that I have been reflecting upon and am just bursting to discuss, “That’s a very good question”. See, a few months ago, someone asked me if I’ve shared my faith with an unbeliever (in this case it was the litmus test question) and I had no idea how to answer that. No, I don’t go up to people, ask if they are a non-believer and then walk them down Roman’s Road. That seems absurd to me. Scripture quoting and spiritual clichés are not my thing. But I didn’t have an adequate response for why I was or wasn’t sharing my faith with unbelievers because I really didn’t know if I was.
Back to last week’s conversation. I shared with her that I believe it is less about having the right scripture to recite to someone than it is being a true reflection of God’s love. For, when you are a reflection of God’s love people sense that there’s more to you than what’s surface. I’d like to think of it as a spiritual connection of who lives in you and the internal struggle of negotiating that with what lives inside the other person.
At any rate, over the past few months I’ve heard some powerful anecdotes sprinkled in theologically-sound preaching that has reinforced this for me. The first message was delivered at First Baptist Church of Glenarden by a visiting missionary from South Africa. He shared a moving story of how his father, a known drunk and self-proclaimed atheist, was converted through months of casual chess games with a believer that first entered his life as the workman that re-carpeted his floors. Because of a chance encounter that evolved into a friendship, not only was he converted but his entire family’s eternal lives (and thousands others that are being impacted by the missionary’s work) were changed. It wasn’t done through a single conversation of proclaiming the man and sinner with certain damnation in his future. Instead a relationship was formed, through which the elements of his faith, and ultimately the nature of God, were exposed slowly but consistently.
A radio broadcast of a previously preached sermon retold the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus. A notorious and vehemently hated chief tax collector, Zacchaeus went to great lengths to seek Jesus when he came to Jericho. Because he couldn’t see due to the crowds and his short height he ran ahead and climbed a tree to ensure he’d get a good look at Him when He passed. As He passed, their spirits connected and Jesus told him to come down quickly because He was staying at his house. Jesus deliberately meet him where he was to show love, compassion and concern. And through this (and Zacchaesus’ desire to right his wrongs), his entire “house” was saved.
The last story I’ll share is from just a few weeks ago where a representative from Fresh Expressionsshared the concept behind this movement at a “Lunch and Learn” session at Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA (where I work now!). As detailed in the introduction on their website, “in many different places, Christians are stepping out in faith and beginning fresh expressions of church: new or different forms of church for a changing culture.” These are deliberate attempts to share faith with unbelievers in authentic and unique ways that reach them at their points of need.
So, with all that God has been pouring into me lately, this is how I answered her question: I share my faith through the natural ways I interact with people. I believe because of how I carry myself they are able to see something different about me. It may not be on a conscious level at first but they sense something different about me.
Then she began to speak. She shared that often people ask her why she is happy. But she doesn’t know what to say because she is just naturally happy. Happy for the life God has blessed her with and the love He constantly displays despite her unworthiness. She mentioned that when she does share with co-workers that she’s happy because of God, they flinch. I think the flinch is good. In a way it is pricking their spirit and causing some level of discomfort. And discomfort in sin or separation from God is good. I shared with her that she doesn’t need to censor this reply in order for them to feel comfortable. My belief is that this is planting a seed. One she may see grow or one that will continue to be watered by others that God sets in their path. Then one day, the discomfort will become so great and the truth so clear that things will suddenly make sense and the need for a Savior will be undeniable.
We ended our conversation, both of us drawing the same conclusion- I share my faith through my everyday existence, meeting the person where they are. Those that are lost likely aren’t going to be sitting on your pew at church. Instead they are in your office, on your metro bus, at your gym, in your neighborhood. Because those that are in most need of knowing about salvation and being invited into a relationship with Christ are around us in our everyday lives, it is imperative that our actions, words and deeds are true reflections of God. Our love should be a manifestation of His love. Our words should be rooted in His truths. Our behaviors should be consistent with what He did when He walked this earth as a man. That’s when our faith is able to minister to others and suggest that there’s something about us that is different.
Finally, I love what seems like a promise to me. Through our authentic sharing of our faith through every day, real-life experiences we are truly living out the mandate that Jesus gave us- to make disciples of men. And what is so beautiful to me, as evidenced in the stories shared above, when we do so we aren’t just impacting one life. For that reconciled heart then shares their faith with others, who in turn accept salvation and then share with others, and so on. And I believe that is the true weight of the promise. So, our living a life that conveys our faith can potentially save a generation of lost souls!
Remember, because of Zacchaeus’ desire to know more, Jesus exposed him to the very essence of God and His glory, causing him to repent. From this experience he was saved. But not only him, but his house. Salvation came to an entire household (and in those days that meant everyone associated with his house- wife, children, servants, etc).
How awesome is it to know that our walk has the ability to change so many lives if we just allow our faith to speak for us and minister to people at their point of need!