Monday, November 20, 2006
How Do You Witness?
I'm getting in under the wire for Sting My Heart's essay contest (deadline today). I sort of forgot about it, but I do want to share. She asks:
How do you witness? How do you go about it? Do you witness at all? Do you invite them to your home/blog?
Matthew 28:19-20 commands, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." What exactly does this mean? Are we all called to knock on doors handing out tracts? To preach the Bible on street corners? To ask each person who enters our home if they know the Lord Jesus Christ? I don't think that we are. Actually, I know people who have been able to honestly share Christ with people using all of these scenarios. But those people were gifted with evangelism. It is the Holy Spirit who draws people into relationship with God, so it is just our role to do that which God is prompting us.
I have always liked focusing on "disciples" and "teaching them to obey" as opposed to "make." What do I mean by that? It's hard for me to ask the pointed questions about people's thoughts on Jesus or death or heaven and hell. However, encouraging people to make small changes in their life, or teaching them to obey--that fits with my personality and gifts and so it's something that is easier for me.
That said, I am trying to learn to be bolder in asking the big questions. It's so hard for me to ask, "Do you go to church?" or "Do you believe in heaven and hell?" but in reality those questions are not generally offensive to anyone. Recently, I have reached out to my daughter's friend's mother. I know that she is not a church goer, and she knows that I am. At one dinner that we had with our daughters, talk quickly turned to prayer and bad things happening to good people. She said that she knew that I was a person of faith, and asked me questions about how I dealt with those things. Instead of just giving a pat answer, I shared with her about experiences in my past that had given me confidence in God, even in bad circumstances. By doing this, I showed her that my faith was more than a Pollyanna ideal--it was real, and it mattered. I invited her to my home for lunch after this meeting. I prayed about that day, but it was not my goal to present her with the gospel and demand an answer from her. It was my goal to continue to get to know who she is, so that I will be able to share with her what she needs--Jesus.
Another recent way that I was able to share God's word was when we had some of my coworkers over for dinner. One of the wives was asking me about our church, because I do generally mention church and/or Bible study, both in a pointed effort to open that door, but also because it's a big part of our life, so in talking about our week's activities, it comes up naturally. We had a very open discussion about her religious views and how her mother-in-law was a Christian and she herself was open to it, but just didn't know that much about it. I was floored! This was a very honest and personal conversation with someone I had just met. I followed up with her by sending her an extra copy of an introductory type Bible study that I had from when I had led a group one summer. I also "just happened" to find a paperback NIV Bible at our library book sale, so I sent both of these to her with a note, including my phone number and email address. She wrote me back that she was touched by my gift and planned to learn more about Jesus.
What do both of these situations have in common? Openness. I try to open my home and my life in order to get to know those who Jesus died to save. I also try to be open to who they are and the issues that they struggle with. I do not have a singular goal of simply witnessing. My particular comfort level comes in sharing relationally. I let my faith be real, and if possible, I encourage others to embrace this Man who has meant so much to me.