Sunday, June 22, 2008

What is the right way?

Can I let you in on a little secret?

I've always had a hard time with witnessing. To be honest, the word itself makes me clench my teeth. It seems like it sets we Christians up as the superior, all-knowing people out to save the ignorant saps below.

Okay, okay, I know that's a little strong and not fair at all. I have great respect for people who are good at evangelism (I much prefer this word to "witnessing"), great respect and awe. Perhaps the devil has planted these images in my head to discourage me from participating. I assure you I understand my responsibility to tell others about Christ. More so, I desire to be obedient to the God I love. I purpose to do it, though I often question myself wondering if I've done it "right" or done enough. And I'm usually scared spitless.

It's not because I don't have experience. I've done stints with different organizations where I've gone door to door to strangers and was so uncomfortable I thought I would vomit. I've felt an actual physical ache to share my faith with others, but heard my pulse in my ears when I recognized the opportunity I'd prayed for. I've chickened out and lived to regret it. I've let it rip and lived to regret it. I've talked to people purely out of obedience to God, taking me out of every comfort zone I've ever known, and yet seen no result. I've talked to people who have responded and to those who've looked at me as if I actually DID vomit on their living room carpet.

I fear coming off condescending. I hate it when someone assumes I need spiritual help and I don't want to belittle anyone that way. I don't want to offend. Yes, yes, I know the gospel is offensive to those in darkness. I understand all that. It's just that I want a softer approach. I want to show sincere love and respect. I want people to be drawn to me as they were to Jesus. Lest you think me full of myself, let me remind you people SHOULD be drawn to His Spirit living in me.

And then there's the whole issue of how you actually EXPLAIN God. Is that truly possible? I am very secure in my relationship with Jesus and wholeheartedly believe He is the way, the truth and the life, yet how do you EXPLAIN that to someone? How can we ever do Him justice?

Now I know there are times we must be ready to give an account. When my father turned to me in the oncologist's office and said, "It kind of makes you think about the after life," I needed a reply. I blew it the first time, but God was gracious to give me another shot and my dad died in peace. So I get that. I have to be ready, but man, the whole evangelism burden gets awfully heavy some days.

Some of you may think me crazy, but I've decided to approach evangelism kind of backwards. Instead of assuming the people around me are "lost", in need of Jesus, and I am their only connection (wow, that's a LOT of pressure), I assume others believe the same way about Christ as I do. I work very hard to converse with people as if we're all on the same page, as if they sat in on Bible study every Wednesday at my house. I find I don't fear their reaction so much and am more sincere. I'm telling them how Jesus fits in my every day life. Plus I'm being true to the uniqueness of me, created specifically by God and feeling more natural and comfortable doing it. I'm just being me. That isn't scary at all (shh, don't say it, no comments, please!). I am not trying to be the authority or point out their "needs" and they are still exposed to the living God in an ordinary woman.

I suppose everyone has their own ideas about evangelism. Don't let this be one-sided. What are your thoughts on it?


Lisa said...

Excellent, Tami how better to be "set apart from the world" than to live are lives in God's way. Isn't that exactly what He wants. Sharing God in every conversation and action helps the people around us see God. It shows that there is a difference. My minister's sermon today challenged us to make those differences known. If we are hiding in the world's comfort zone so that we don't offend someone, the world will never know why they need a Saviour. Daily life is the best way to shine our light.

Brenda said...

My first thought is that it is scary. I try to let my light shine and prefer loving people to Jesus to preaching to them. I do not know if this is cowardly or correct.

Dianne said...

I too struggle with the same things you struggle with. I think that's a great approach. If Jesus truly means all we say he means, it makes sense that we'll not only live but want to talk this way. Makes sense to me.

Living Beyond said...

Oh girlfriend - right on I love your approach - just assuming that they know - I find that it gives me freedom to just be me when I can talk like I assume they understand. I have the relationship with a lady right now and it's amazing the conversations we get into but I often see this look in her eye that she knows I have something more than she does. So I pray for her often and I truly believe that she will come to accept Jesus as her saviour. And I look for the opportunities to be 'bold'. We can get so hung up on the words instead of just living authentically before them.

Great thoughts - great post!

PS Thanks for your post about Sunday - I'd love to know what the time difference is between the two of us. I'm on Canadian mountain time - what would your time zone be? Then I'll recap my Sunday for you lol I am so blessed to know that God did that - thank you for praying!!!!!!

Christine said...

I so agree. I have always had trouble sharing my faith in an overt way. It comes from the fact that I was an atheist intil I was in college and remember how soured I was on religion and God for a long time because of people's "witnessing" to me. The faith that spoke the most loudly was the faith I saw in people who never spoke much about it- my best friend in highschool who was a PK, my boyfriend's family in college who loved me "even though" I was not a Christian. I eventually went to church with them regularly and accepted Christ as a result. I love your idea of just being out there with your faith as if it's the most natural thing in the world for everyone. Seems a lot less sanctimonious and a lot more comfortable!