Jesus was never satisfied with just news-weather-sports type relationships. His commitment to people was much deeper. He was always aware of needs – eternal needs. And as God’s Spirit works in each of our lives, these are the issues that will concern us also. Are we willing to take the initiative to meet these needs?
Have you ever had an experience something like this? While you are talking with a friend, the subject of his personal needs comes up (or something else is said that could lead to an opportunity to talk about Christ), and you just stand there with your tongue tied in one big knot. You don’t know what to say. And isn’t this especially true with people you have known for a long time? You can talk about anything except …
Being Casual but Definite
In John 4 we have a vivid picture of how to take the initiative when sharing our faith. Jesus became a friend and He casually but definitely turned the attention of the Samaritan woman to her spiritual needs. At the same time Jesus was not heavy and preachy. We certainly do not need to be preachy with our friends either. We can relax. The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of our friends and we are only His mouthpiece-His communicator. We are God’s messenger boy or girl, and as we witness in the power of the Spirit we can leave the results to God. When Jesus shared, He was casual but definite. He was relaxed and friendly, yet He had a purpose in His conversations . . . to help people know His Heavenly Father.
Dump the Lingo
Not only should we be casual but definite in our witness, we should also be clear in our communication. Do you use Christian lingo or God talk when you share? I have heard Christians enthusiastically try to explain spiritual truth to non-Christians by using terms and cliches such as, praise the Lord, saved, born again, God blesses you and a host of others that the non-Christian did not understand. These terms are meaningful to Christians, but are unclear to unbelievers. As good communicators we need to be fresh and creative in explaining spiritual truth. We can explain what it means to have a relationship with Christ. Then we can explain that this is what is meant by being born again. We need to translate Christian terms.
How would you freshly and creatively explain each of these terms to a non-Christian?
- born again
- God Blesses you
- inviting Christ into your life
- receive Christ
- the abundant life
Talk about these and other terms with your friends.
Reacting or Responding
Relaxing and clearly communicating are important in our communication with others. But what happens if someone does not relax with us, and in fact reacts when we try to share our faith? Let’s look at our story in John 4. In verses 10-14, Jesus turns his conversation with the Samaritan woman from a request for water to an offer for living water-real satisfaction. He turned the conversation to spiritual issues. At first, the woman wanted to challenge Christ’s claim to have the answers to life (vv. 11, 12): “How can you know the truth? No one knows for sure.” This is not unusual. Some people may respond this way, even after we have established a friendship.
Has anyone ever said this to you? How would you answer in a way that would help someone rather than argue? There are three ways we could respond to someone who questions us as the Samaritan woman questioned Jesus.
- We could back off, retreat, and give up.
- We could react or argue, trying to impress people with what we know.
- We can respond positively.
Why do you think it is important not to argue with people when we share Christ? What do these Scripture verses tell us about attitudes as we witness? 2 Timothy 2:23-26; Galatians 5:25,26. Some people are unhappy and dissatisfied with life and they can be a little argumentative, as was the Samaritan woman. But it appears that she did not want Jesus to back off and leave her alone. People who challenge us seldom do. In fact, they are disappointed if we do retreat. “Well, I guess he’s not that convinced himself.” Jesus kept His focus on her real need, not her reactions, and it helped her trust Him.
Attitudes for Taking the Initiative
As we wrap up, here are some suggestions that will help you take the initiative:
- Pray specifically for opportunities to share Christ. One of the biggest reasons we don’t share our faith is because we are not spiritually or mentally prepared. We are not really thinking about or praying for our friends.
- Look for opportunities. If you have asked God for an opportunity to share then expect it. Your friend may ask a question, express a personal need, or give an opinion, hoping you will respond. Be on the alert. When your opportunity comes be casual but definite. In other words, relax. God is in control. But take the initiative. Take a step of faith. Care about your friend.
- Create opportunities. When people were not coming to Jesus, He went to them. This is the most important and exciting part of your ministry. Create opportunities by setting up a special time to eat. Or, invite a person to a meeting or Bible study where Christ will be discussed. Have your friend over for dinner. When creating opportunities, always be very honest as to why you would like to get together. Explain that you have discovered something that has really helped the spiritual dimension of your life and you think it would interest them also.
- Consider the immense importance of someone knowing Christ. Don’t take other people’s salvation lightly. God doesn’t. He made the greatest sacrifice of all time-on the cross. Ask God to give you a heart of compassion. Focus your attention on what really matters-eternal values. These Scripture verses will help: Matthew 9:36-39; Romans 10:13-15; 1 Timothy 2:1-4,2 Corinthians 4:16 – 5:10.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. It has been said, “He who never fails never does anything.”
- Teamwork. Try pairing up with a Christian friend to pray together for those with whom you want to share (Matthew 18:19). Create opportunities together-team evangelism (Luke 10:1).
Putting It All Together
We have discovered that as we share our faith we should:
- Take the initiative.
- Be casual but definite.
- Relax in the Spirit.
- Be clear when we use biblical and Christian terms.
- Do not argue.
For sharing to become a way of life we need to be thinking and planning ahead, focusing our attention and concern on those around us who don’t know our Lord. The more we concern ourselves with the needs of others, the more natural it will be to share Christ.