C-17°|F1°Being a Christian Witness A Personal Perspective We have probably all encountered, heard sermons or even posed an evangelism pitch that begins with a question something like this: "If you were to die tomorrow, do you know for sure if you will be with God in Heaven?". The question sets up a whole presentation about sin, punishment, death, and eternal life through Jesus. As Christians, we know the drill. But really, must we start with the notion of death? Personally, I've never been comfortable with it because there is so much more that is wonderful about Jesus that is already more than enough as incentive. Being saved isn't merely about being plucked from death and sin. There is so much more because Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly! I prefer to tell someone how great our God is. Sharing the Gospel is really about telling people about God's love for them in Christ. It is about our First Love When the disciples first met Jesus they were so excited about meeting the Messiah that they wanted to introduce Jesus to their family and friends. The first thing Andrew did when he met Jesus was to find his brother, Simon Peter so that he could bring Peter to Jesus. Likewise, when Philip first met Jesus, he went off quickly to look for Nathanael so that he could introduce the Messiah to him. They did this because they were truly excited about having met the Messiah and wanted everyone to know Him too (John 1:40-45). Even the Samaritan woman Jesus met by the well could not wait to go share the good news with everyone in the village. She was so excited that she forgot what she was doing and left her water jar by the well. Her excitement must have been contagious because they came streaming from the village to see Jesus (John 4:28-30). Imagine that, a woman shunned by the village because of her lifestyle - an effective witness for Jesus. If we think that anyone, particularly people of certain backgrounds can't be good witnesses, we should really examine our hearts for self-righteousness. And if you think you are not good enough to be a witness for Jesus, you are mistaken also. Another interesting thing about both Andrew and Philip's introductions was that they only needed to set up the meeting and Jesus did the rest. Jesus Himself proved who He was. We don't always have to try to prove who Jesus is to someone; in fact we can't. Though we explain the Gospel and share our convictions in the process of witnessing, it is actually the Holy Spirit who convicts someone into believing. Too often we try too hard to prove who Jesus is and all we are getting ourselves into is an argument that deepens scepticism and goes nowhere. We must admit that we cannot answer every question posed by sceptics but they can still be touched by honesty, kindness, love and patience. If we can do that and share our excitement and love about our Messiah, I think we might just get better results. We don't have to be biblical scholars to be effective witnesses. I've noticed that new converts are often the most effective evangelists as they will very quickly bring their best friends and family members to church and often successfully lead them to Jesus. And they only have minimal bible knowledge at this point. How do you think they managed to witness successfully when they had little to no bible knowledge? The new convert's intention was to simply introduce someone to their new found love for Jesus and their words and actions were guided accordingly. When was the last time we were excited about talking about our First Love with someone? And speaking about the Samaritan Woman, we must also always keep in mind that it is not about sin. Because whatever someone's sins are, it won't matter because it is all about to be wiped clean the moment they accept Jesus. God is their judge and God forgives and forgets all their sins (Matthew 7:1; Hebrews 8:12; 1 John 1:9). We don't need to remind them about their sins because they know and God knows too and He will forgive them (read Romans, chapters 1 to 3). We must refrain from judging because there is no greater put-off than that. They just need to know that though they have sinned, so have we and we can all thank Jesus that His sacrifice at the Cross covers us all. We don't need to share our knowledge about the bible or about our understanding of what scripture says about sin. When we do that, we are sharing about what we know and not Who we know. It is really only about Jesus, our First Love whom we want to introduce others to. Jesus is the giver of eternal life, not scripture - and it is only from Him that we can receive our salvation (John 5:39-40). It is about God's love for us As we interact with the unsaved we also need to ask ourselves if we are really representing Jesus for who He is. When we want a friend to like someone we are about to introduce them to, we will certainly highlight all that is positive. The reason of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is because of God's love for the world (John 3:16) and we should definitely tell people about God's love for them through Christ. If I may just digress for just one paragraph, I would just like to stress that we must take a stand against things like voluntary pregnancy termination and alternative lifestyles as an agenda condoned by the government and by law. And to do this, we need to take a firm Biblical stand. But when dealing with it however, we must employ a gospel response. Let me try to differentiate it this way. A Biblical stand is a stand taken in line with what God's Word says while a gospel response is an action taken in line with what Jesus would do. And Jesus would approach it with love and kindness as He would approach all sinners. Would Jesus go around bashing people over their heads with sin? Would Jesus judge and argue? Would Jesus condemn people for their sinful lifestyles? Our Great Commission is not to fight sin and rid the world of it (though we must pray against it). In fact the battle with sin is something very individual and we can only overcome sin when we know Jesus and become transformed by Holy Spirit. So if we really do want to battle sin, the best means is through bringing people to Jesus and letting the Holy Spirit deal with the sin of individuals in the same way our own sins were dealt with. Only when a person has genuinely received Jesus in their lives can pastors, teachers and ministry leaders begin to disciple and teach someone to be an overcomer. Preaching sin to an unbeliever rarely saves them, it usually drives them further away. In any case, a person can lead the holiest of lifestyles but if he or she does not receive Jesus, they would still go the same way as every sinner who did not receive Jesus either. Salvation for an unbeliever is through Jesus and not by avoidance of sin. An unbeliever doesn't have to be holy to qualify for salvation. Jesus accepts us just as we are and He makes us holy. God has shown us a way to be made right in His sight - not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done (Romans 3:21-22 NLT) It is about our testimony as Church and Christians What we do as Christians and how the Church portrays itself to the world communicates who our King is. And the testimony of our Church and us as Christians needs to be carefully constructed and preserved so that we can be sure we are projecting a good testimony of our King. Before we come out to chant slogans, criticise or simply state our stand, we must ask ourselves if we are edifying the testimony of the Church and Jesus or are we simply airing our own views vainly. Do we want to convey a testimony of condemnation (and bigotry even) or a testimony of love? To use a more secular term, I am really questioning if we have conveyed the best image of Church and Christ to the world. What is the image of our Church and Christians right now? Wouldn't people prefer to meet a God who loves them rather than the God who condemns them? The witness of our Church ought to framed with love and as Christians, I feel we must accept the obligation to gently admonish anyone who represents the Christian faith in any way that is incompatible with the testimony of God's love. It is all about love Being an effective witness is about doing everything that God wants. It can be great things or small things. It can be preaching to tens of thousands at a rally or it can be reaching out to one person we come across on the street. Whatever it is, it must be done with love, His love. Our Great Commission is more than talking about His love for everyone - we have to show love too. And unless we can love people we are really being hypocrites about our love for God (1 John 4:20). I have talked about our First Love, God's love for us and love for our neighbours. Though I may have gone around it in a rather convoluted manner, the point I am trying to make is really a very simple one. That at the heart of the Great Commission is the Greatest Commandment and we must never lose sight of that.
I couldn't help but recall when I came to Christ. I didn't come because I was consumed with guilt of my sins and terrified of punishment; I was only seven years old. Rather, I had been learning of Jesus all of my life. The Holy Spirit had helped me understand that God didn't want me to just know about him, he loved me and wanted me. You know what? When I encountered God, I wanted him too!
[quote][b][i]at the heart of the Great Commission is the Greatest Commandment and we must never lose sight of that.[/b][/i][/quote] I want to burn these words into my heart.
May we never forget the greatest of these is love!
This verse came to mind as I was reading your blog.
Something that is very hard for many Christians to comprehend and understand. This comes to mind whenever I see misguided Christians fighting to stop certain behaviors in society. We should be active but not judgemental in what we saw and do in this area.
[quote]Our Great Commission is not to fight sin and rid the world of it (though we must pray against it).[/quote]
Thank you for a thought provoking blog.
:coffee: drinking tea
[quote=doulos]I've noticed that new converts are often the most effective evangelists as they will very quickly bring their best friends and family members to church and often successfully lead them to Jesus. And they only have minimal bible knowledge at this point. How do you think they managed to witness successfully when they had little to no bible knowledge?[/quote]
Sia, what a profound observation of the Power of Almighty God!
You are so right in stating that it's about our First Love and the power granted within us from God to do His Will, which as you so eloquently state is the Great Commission.
Brother, your statement about fulfilling our Great Commission while never leaving the heart of the Greatest Commandment gives me cause to say [b]WOO HOO![/b]