Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Witnessing Cop-Out...Revisited

There are a multitude of ways to testify of God's salvation, and each of us has one or two methods we're most comfortable with.  Consider these examples:
  • Some people find it easy to walk up to strangers on the street, at a mall, or on a campus and share the Gospel.
  • Some people love gradual, long-term Gospel sharing with the people they're closest to by steering conversations toward their faith whenever possible.
  • Some prefer the method of living with highly apparent, uncompromisable integrity, making it clear to others that they really do believe their faith is worth the sacrifice, and letting others come to them if they want to learn about Christ.
  • Some use their vocations or hobbies to spread the Gospel to strangers, such as writers, musicians, those who volunteer time at Christian organizations, etc.
  • Some take advantage of "captive audience" situations, such as inserting their faith into essays/papers they turn in to instructors at school, or at support groups or book clubs where sharing personal details is encouraged.
Now, if you've had the same experiences I've had, you've heard a whole lot of people claim that no matter how many other ways you're sharing the Gospel, if you're not doing the first one (literally walking up to random people you meet and asking, "Do you know Jesus?"), then somehow you're sinning.  While I think there are good intentions behind this view (getting people to witness, because honestly, most of us American Christians are far too silent when it comes to our faith!), it can end up skirting the main problem.

We should be willing to spread the Gospel in any capacity, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable we are with a particular situation, however God calls us to do it.  That is, if God calls us to all of the above examples (and many more), we should do all of them.  One is not more important than another.  Whatever God says to do at that specific moment is the most important at that moment.

The over-emphasized American view of witnessing by talking to strangers can result in forcing everyone to follow one method, which God may not have called them to do at that particular time, so it won't end up bearing any fruit.  If God puts Steve in a situation where spending a lot of time with his friend Bill, who would see how he lives with integrity, later ask him about Christ, and become saved, but the American Church culture tells Steve that he must accost people in the mall with Bible tracts, which they all just throw away with their used napkins at the food court, Bill will not get saved and Steve will have wasted his time and missed his calling.

Now, please note that I am not saying that that type of witnessing is bad, unimportant, or ineffectual - just that I believe God has called some to employ it heavily (and will bless their efforts with fruit), and everyone else to employ it occasionally.  Note - I am saying that, yes, we should all be ready and willing to walk up to total strangers and share the Gospel.  But, we shouldn't adopt a false sense of guilt for not doing that frequently if we feel God is using us to spread His good news in other ways, too.

Whatever situation we are in, we need to be aware of how God is leading us to share the Gospel.  Even if that particular circumstance scares us, no matter what it is (talking to stranger or a loved one, or standing up in a classroom or at work, or whatever), we must tell God, "Okay, I'll do it." 

And if we are encouraging other believers to share their faith, we also need to encourage them to do so in whatever way God has planned for them - not our personal favorite method.

What other ways can you think of to share the Gospel?
What method/situation is most comfortable for you?  Least comfortable?
Do you have any stories you'd like to share of a time when God led to share the Gospel or make a stand for Him, and even though it terrified you, you obeyed?  What came out of that?

P.S. - Sorry I've been posting so sporadically lately! :-)  I'll try very hard to be more consistent and return to my posted schedule. :-)

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