Counting today (Aug. 27th) I have only five more sermons to give at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Atlanta. They have found their new pastor and Linda and I are filled with rejoicing — and deep sadness. It has been a wonderful 1 1/2 years that we have been able to serve them.
I believe there are areas that get us STUCK in the Christian life, and we have considered five of them so far: SALVATION, THE SCRIPTURES, SIN, THE SAINTS, and SERVICE. Let’s now look at SHARING.
Do you find it difficult to “share” your faith in Christ with others? Me too. Several truths have helped me in what we Jesus-followers call witnessing. The first is that I am committed to conversations not necessarily conversions. I would be thrilled if I saw more people converted to Christ, but I see my witness as sowing the seed, nudging people closer to Christ (as my friend Al McKechnie says).
If I am pursuing conversations, talking about Jesus becomes a whole lot easier. Why? Because I can LISTEN instead of talk! This leads to a second truth that has helped me and it is this: People want to tell their STORY. If you or I simply show that we are interested in them, they will often open up and tell us about their lives, their families, their struggles.
Let’s take a preliminary look at our main text for this issue of SHARING:
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (I Peter 3)
Wow. This text tells us that we will suffer in this world, not for doing evil, but for doing good! And Peter’s point is how we respond to unjust suffering. Do we grab the Yellow Pages and find the best lawyer we can to sue those who are harming us? No! Peter gives us very practical advice: (1) Don’t be afraid of them! (2) Get your heart right in putting the Lord first in your life! (3) Be ready to explain why your hope is in Jesus! (4) Make sure your behavior backs up your beliefs! (5) Trust the Lord and His will for you — even if it involves unjust suffering! Anyone trying to harm you? (to be continued)