The Everyday Evangelist by Duncan McIntosh, Judson Press 1984.
As a former agnostic and pseudo-atheist, I admit that I find it difficult to find opportunities to share Jesus Christ. I don’t think I’m knowledgeable or experienced enough to share it, and I know how silly the Gospel sounded to me before. I saw myself as an 'agnostic' because I used to believe that we cannot know for sure whether there is a God or not. But in reading the Bible and trying to open my heart and mind to ideas that were new to me, I was humbled. I relied too much on human reason and knowledge, and if given a choice whether to believe or not, I chose to believe. But it wasn't until late last year and some overwhelming problems in life that I realized my shallow Christianity, and started to dedicate myself in deeper study of the Bible, knowing who Christ is, and involving myself in Church.
What turned me off from Christianity before were bad encounters with those who claim to be 'Christians' yet put others down. In Christianity, we should not focus on the sects, bad Christians, and other outside issues. We must begin in Christ himself. Sometimes I think the world keeps you from knowing him, we only get outside impressions of him and we must do away with all our previous notions when we start reading the Bible. We should get to the source and judge for ourselves, and not just believe this or that because others told us to.
It was a college friend who first invited me to their church, and at first I felt that she was imposing her beliefs. She told me to read the Gospel of John first. Since I read everything anyway, and the Bible is the most popular book in the world, I did. And it affected me. I started to consider that there was some truth to Christ.
In sharing Christ, I think we should not start with scaring people with 'fire and brimstone’ preaching, that if they don’t repent and accept Jesus right away they have hell waiting for them. We should keep in mind that first and foremost that the message of Christ is love, and what he is offering is a gift for mankind. Sometimes preaching hell turns off people than encouraging them to listen.
While browsing the Theology library in my university I found a thin book, The Everyday Evangelist. Its a short read with practical insights on sharing Jesus. As a book, it has an excellent design and simple illustrations. What I love is the simple cover, which is actually an illustration of a fictional story inserted in the chapters of two friends who meet in a park bench and through listening and genuine caring, the Christian was able to convince a non-believer. But we must first start with genuine care for others.
As Christians, we are called to share the message of Christ. This is his last words before ascension, to go and make disciples of all nations. From reading this, I realized that we don’t have to leave our homes and preach in far-flung nations. We are in a particular place and time to influence others, in our home, at work, and in all our relationships.
I found 4 practical insights on sharing Jesus that are already obvious but often overlooked:
1. We must pray for people. “You will be led to represent God to certain people at certain times,” the book says. Most of us are afraid that we will look silly if we share our faith to non-believers, but we must remind ourselves that our efforts are not wasted. We have already planted a seed in a person’s heart that may blossom into genuine faith. Everyone has a unique journey, we can’t force our ideas on others. Let God change a person’s heart.
2. We must listen to people and care about them. Before Jesus acted, he listened. People sense it if we aren’t being real. People are more inclined to listen if we are also open to them.
3. Our personal testimony, the story of how we came to Christ, is still the most effective tool in sharing about Him. It is not theological concepts, high-sounding words, or doomsday scripture that will make people listen. In sharing with others, we must also begin with ourselves and how God has worked in us. Each of us have a unique and beautiful journey in our Christian life. I was down and depressed before, but I discovered real joy and confidence in who I am in Christ. In our stories, maybe the people listening have the same problems and can relate. In seeing the personal transformation in us, they will also see how Christ can work in their lives.
4. We should not be guilt-ridden, but prayerful in the sharing of His Word. Sometimes we may get discouraged that we are weak in this area, and we must pray for it. Sometimes instead of being joyful, we focus on our lack of opportunity or our shyness. But remember that if we pray, Christ will also help us have courage and faith to share Him with the world and plant seeds of faith in people’s hearts. As the Bible said, how heaven rejoices even if one believer goes back to Him! Heaven threw a party when you chose to believe again, and even if you help just one person, that’s already a big deal. ✙