There are four directions in which a Christian must engage himself (or herself) to be able to say that he (or she) is doing what is expected of her (or him!) by the Lord:
DOWNWARD Communication – GOD to YOU:
You need to be in God’s Word every day. Set aside fifteen minutes when your mind is alert (for me, that’s early in the morning, before I get distracted by household chores) and read your Bible. (Can’t find time? How about fifteen of the minutes you usually spend on social media?) Start in Genesis on January 1st if you’d like and read 3-4 chapters a day from front to back. Or use your pastor’s topic from the previous Sunday to guide your choice of reading. Grab a copy of “The Daily Bread” (most churches have a stock of them for free) and let each day’s entry guide your reading for that day. Buy a devotional. Close your eyes and pick a chapter or two at random. Something…ANYthing to get you reading what your Lord wants to tell you!
UPWARD Communication – YOU to GOD:
You need to be engaged in prayer with the Lord. Ideally, find a similar fifteen-minute chunk of time where you can be quiet and alone, and talk to the Father through His Son. That was one of the purposes of Christ’s visit to earth two millennia ago: He ripped asunder the curtain between God and Man from God’s side (Matthew 27:50-51: And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.) From then on, Christ became our intermediary to approach the Father in prayer, and He welcomes our prayers – not just our requests, but our conversation! Spend a few moments talking to God throughout your day: if you ever see me talking to myself while I’m driving in my car, that’s Who I’m visiting with.
LATERAL Instruction IN – OTHER Christians to YOU:
Go to church. Go to a Bible study group. Listen to sermons, engage in conversations with other Christians, especially those who’ve been carrying the Holy Spirit within them for quite a while now. Share your questions with them – and share yourobservations or thoughts with them as well. For some of your fellow church-goers, you are that veteran Christian!
LATERAL Instruction OUT – YOU to OTHER people:
This is the hard part.
Sharing your faith with people who may not be accepting of what you have to share with them.
But Jesus Christ told us we had to. Point blank: “The Great Commission”, Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So, there it is, in red and white. But, it’s scary!
Let’s look at it this way, and maybe it won’t be quite as intimidating:
YOU cannot make anyone become a Christian. That’s above your pay grade. Only God can do that, through the Holy Spirit. Either a person is ready to accept Christ into his or her life, or not. If not, then what you say might help them move closer to their moment of acceptance, but it doesn’t matter how eloquently you speak – it ain’t gonna happen just then.
But here’s the great part – the counter: If they are ready to accept Christ, then it ALSO doesn’t matter how beautiful your words are! They’re just looking for someone to invite them to join you on the life-altering journey that you’ve been travelling!
Media evangelist Greg Laurie talks about the very first person he ever “saved” (understanding what we’ve just talked about). He hadn’t memorized anything yet, and he was nervously reading to a woman decades older than he was, off a little notecard version of the Gospel, running sentences together like a fifth grader giving a book report. So he rattles off a ten-minute presentation in about two and a half, never making eye contact, and finishes with, “So, d’you wanna accept Christ into your life?”
He didn’t know what to do when she actually said “Yes, I am.”
So he scrambled to find something in his excuse for a Bible to read (I think he said he found Romans 10:9), and she accepted Christ right there on the spot.
No promises that’s what’ll happen for you, now – he also describes several miserable failures. But he also reminds us to consider the outcomes.
What’s the best that can happen? They can accept Christ, and you’ve helped save a soul for eternity.
What’s the worst that can happen? They can turn you down. Nothing lost. If you have no shame in being a Christian and letting that person know that their salvation is important to you, then there’s literally nothing you can possibly lose by sharing the Gospel with anyone.
And never forget: the Gospel has power beyond anything you or I can say on our own.
The apostle Paul said it best in First Corinthians 1, verses 17-31:
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Consider what he’s saying:
To the “perishing”, meaning the un-saved, non-Believer, the Gospel is pure nonsense (“the word of the cross is folly”)! We understand that it is the difference between eternal life or eternal Hell for us, but it sounds preposterous UNLESS the Holy Spirit has spoken to you. Our audience may not be divided into Jews and Greeks any more, but some people today demand “signs” (“Oh yeah, where’s the proof?”) and some demand “wisdom” (“That’s just stupid – the story doesn’t even make sense!), but what we offer is the Gospel, plain and simple. Don’t change the story – don’t exaggerate – don’t leave out the important details (Christ died carrying the burden of our sins, so that God could accept us as if we were sinless, and without that we could never earn our way into Heaven, because those sins would always block our entrance.) Without Jesus’ resurrection, we wouldn’t be able to be reborn into eternal life either, so don’t deny the resurrection either, no matter how “silly” it seems.
The Gospel is all there is.
Just present the story of Jesus Christ as God had it written down in Scripture, and then let it do its work.
If it “works”, great! Don’t take the credit – it was God’s doing.
If it “doesn’t work”, fine! Don’t take the blame! – God decided it wasn’t time yet.
We are His foot soldiers. We just do our job, and He will be satisfied.