In my first days as a Christian I had difficulty telling others about Jesus. I was more concerned about rejection by others than my appreciation for him. Also, at times I feared that I was ashamed or embarrassed to be associated with him.
I had no problem having an intellectual discussion about the proof of the empty tomb, or the reliability of Scripture, or defending the faith. I actually thrived on these debates. But what did I accomplish? Not much! I can’t recall winning many souls, even if I won lots of arguments (at least I thought so). Yet when it came to describing the loveliness of my Saviour, I withered.
I’m sure you’ve found yourself running back in your mind previous conversations with a friend or family member where you hesitated to bring up Jesus, even if it would have been unforced. Maybe at other times you did share something, yet it was out of a sense of guilt or pressure, since it’s our duty to evangelize. I’ve been there; usually in this situation I feared rejection so much I spoke nervously. Again I probably don’t have to tell you that this wasn’t all that successful.
Why are we like this? I know we could explore all the psychological reasons for the fear of rejection, but I don’t think that’s the most significant issue. I believe the hesitancy has its origins in the Gospel we embrace.
You might object, “Wait, you can’t possibly conclude that there’s a deficiency in the Gospel?” No, I agree, there’s no issue with the Gospel, but only the one we’ve believed, the one that is so often presented.
How frequently have we heard the Gospel presented as an eternal fire insurance policy, with the possibility of having an eternal holiday living in our own heavenly mansion on a street of gold? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that we’ve all sinned, that God has destined us to hell, but to avoid this all you have to do is believe that Jesus died and rose again so you could enter the pearly gates.
Now I’m not denying the truth in this statement, however it’s got a big problem. In this presentation Jesus is the tool—a get-out-jail-free card. The real goal is the avoidance of punishment and/or gaining our heavenly reward. We, in our self-interest, come to use Jesus for his benefits.
Let me present this truth in a more positive picture. A few years ago, I had to be away from my wife and 18-month-old daughter for five weeks. I missed them more than I can express. Every new word my daughter learned that I didn’t get to hear was like a red-hot dagger to my heart. And in my love for them I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about them. At times I didn’t fear quietness, but that my new friends would tire of my constant description of them. At the end of the first week they all knew my wife’s and daughter’s favorite things, knew when they would join me, and they knew so much about them that when my wife and daughter arrived my friends felt like they already knew them.
I discovered the obvious. Love isn’t ashamed of the one we love. Love isn’t shy to declare itself. Love doesn’t drearily talk with words filled with fear and nervousness. Actually, love unabashedly speaks with eloquence of the one we love.
Love doesn’t stop speaking either. Love is loquacious—that is, it abounds in praises and descriptions of the loveliness of the one who has won our heart. Everyone loves to speak of their passions: their new love interest, the team they support, their favorite movie, or the great book that’s hooked their attention. Fill in the blank and you’ll get it. This is the disposition of love.
It’s no different for our Saviour. Jesus isn’t the get-out-of-jail-free card. He isn’t the means to an end. Rather he is the goal, the prize, the means and the end. He is heaven. When we make the declaration of the Gospel about the benefits of Jesus (benefits that are true but not the point) rather than a description of his beauty, we set up the possibility of people believing for self-concerned reasons. Not only is it dangerous because it produces a false faith, but this Gospel doesn’t lead to the love that opens our hearts and our voices to others about our Friend.
So how do we overcome our quietness? Cast the eyes of your heart on the Founder and Perfecter of our faith. The beautiful one that humbled himself and died for us that he might win our hearts and our devotion. Look to the God who gave up eternity to serve us because he loved us, even while we were his enemies.
Read the Bible thru at a fast pace and discover the story of our God that abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness. A good God who is so delightful you’ll desire for him to be the greatest object of your affections. In its pages you’ll find our Bridegroom who gave all his heart and soul to woo and wash his bride. A Father who gave his Son that he might have sons and daughters to love as he loves his eternal Son.
Set your gaze on him and make him the ambition of your heart, and amazingly you’ll naturally tell others about him in such a winsome way that they’ll want to know him as you do.