Sharing Your Faith
Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us, too, that God will open a door [of opportunity] to us for the word, to proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I have been imprisoned; that I may make it clear [and speak boldly and unfold the mystery] in the way I should.
Paul understood that evangelism is successful only if God leads us, opens doors, and motivates us by reminding us of the wonder of the gospel message. Paul was tough as nails, but he recognized that telling others about Christ is a partnership between us and God, and God has to do the heavy lifting!
Throughout his career, Paul had learned to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. He went to Macedonia because the Holy Spirit led him and he didn’t go to other places because the Spirit blocked the door(Acts 16: 6-10). An open door, Paul realized, is essential, and it wasn’t good enough for him to use a bulldozer to knock the door down. He had to pray, listen intently, and follow the Spirit’s directions.
Paul was gripped with the wonder of the gospel. He never got over his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, and it shaped his life until the day he died. The love and forgiveness of God weren’t neat, formulaic doctrines; they were life and breath imparted to him by Jesus- truths that propelled him from city to city to tell anyone who would listen about Christ, no matter what the consequences, which included beatings, whippings, and imprisonment.
In our lives, it’s easy to leave evangelism to the professionals. Certainly, we can bring people to church to hear a great message, but we can also ask God for open doors with family and friends. When the time is right and the Spirit leads us, we can tell people what Jesus has done in our lives. We may not be as articulate as the preacher, and we may not be able to answer all the questions, but that’s okay. People just want to know if our faith is real- and we’re the only one who can show them it is.
Since the Lord in the great commission clearly tells us to “Go ye therefore into all the world, teaching and preaching,” I felt that not only was I instructed to do so but I wanted to do so. As a believer I felt I needed through my own life to be an example of my belief.
When God appeared to Isaiah in the temple, He asked a question: “Whom shall I send and who will go for me?” We read that Isaiah responded, saying, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” Through Isaiah the people heard the message of God for their time. But they weren’t the only ones. We, too, can hear His message through the words of Isaiah. The same is true for all the writers of the Bible. Each of them had heard the call of God to go in His name and speak for Him.
You and I may never accomplish such things but the question God asked Isaiah is the same question He’s asking us today. All of us know people who don’t know Jesus as their Savior and there’s nobody better than us to make Him known to them. We aren’t strangers knocking on a door. We are friends and family sharing our story with those who know these and are known by them. They don’t want to hear about Jesus from some stranger they don’t know and are not sure they can trust. They want to hear about Him from us- people they know and trust. We don’t have to know everything about God or the answers to every question they may have about what the Bible says.
Think about it this way. If you were introducing a friend to another friend, would you have to know everything about them to make the introduction? Or would you just make the introduction and let them learn about each other? We aren’t the ones who convince people to invite Christ into their hearts. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. But we do have the responsibility to talk with people about Jesus.
This doesn’t come from some sense of duty, guilt or pressure. It comes from a relationship with God that is rooted in awe and gratitude because of how He has touched our lives. The fact of the matter is that passionate witnessing comes from passionate worship. Those who know God in a deep personal way and are aware of His incredible grace and mercy and love will always respond to that with praise, worship and thanksgiving. They will spend time with God in conversation-prayer, not because they must but because they enjoy talking with Him and hearing His voice. There’s no sense from those we read about in the Bible of a stilted, formal speech to God, rather it’s a sense of two friends engaged in conversation. That’s what Paul is saying to us in Colossians 4. He’s not suggesting that we just say random words or pray random, thoughtless prayers. Instead he says we are to pray “focused prayers,” bringing our minds and hearts together for specific requests. Mingled with our asking is thanksgiving. Sometimes we have so many needs in our lives that we move from request to request without taking time to return thanksgiving to God for providing our needs. Like a child in a toy store, we move from one answer to another request without ever truly enjoying the response to our prayer.
One of the things Paul tells us to make a specific request for is that God will provide open doors so that we can share our faith. For us, this usually means that we are asking God to open the door in a conversation with a friend or family member so that we can tell them our story about Christ. If we will make that a specific prayer, we will be amazed an how God will open the door and how He has already prepared the heart of the listener. Most of the time it’s us who fail to speak that is lacking. So Paul tells us that while we’re praying for an open door, we also pray for boldness and wisdom so that we share the message of Christ clearly the way we should.
What does God need from us for such a great and yet privileged task? Just a willing response- “Here I am send me!”
Jeremiah was another person God called to go and speak for Him. Let’s read about that conversation:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument],And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own];I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God!Behold, I do not know how to speak,For I am [only] a young man.” But the Lord said to me,“Do not say, ‘I am [only] a young man,’Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,And whatever I command you, you shall speak. “Do not be afraid of them [or their hostile faces],For I am with you [always] to protect you and deliver you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,“Behold (hear Me), I have put My words in your mouth. “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,To uproot and break down,To destroy and to overthrow,To build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 1: 5-10
Jeremiah’s response was no different than many of us, “I do not know how to speak.” Yet God responds and says, “I have put My words in your mouth.” Jesus told us that when we were sent, that we didn’t have to be afraid for in that moment, the Holy Spirit would give us the words to speak.
At the end of the day, if we are willing to go, we can trust that God will do the rest. He will open the doors and He will give us the words to speak and He will take our feeble attempt to tell the story of Christ and enhance it by the power of the Holy Spirit and change a life.
Will you go? Will you pray for an open door? Will you seek an opportunity? Will you ask for boldness and clarity? Can God send you to represent Him?
Dr. John Thompson