What kind of witness for Christ are you? Are you an effective one? Here’s a better question, do you feel that you share the love of Jesus for the world with the world in a valuable way? I’m going to go out on a limb, using only my personal experience in conversations with believers of all ages and maturities, and say that you’re either thinking, “no, not really” or, “I’m not sure how I’m doing.” If you’re saying, “no, not really”, congratulations on your honesty. If you’re saying, “I’m not sure how I’m doing”, then you’re not doing very well and are just hoping you’re doing well, well enough to be a “good Christian.” But what if I were to ask you that question in one week and you immediately, without hesitation said, “Yes! I do feel that I share Jesus’ love of the world with the world. Yes, I do.”? What would the previous seven days look like in order for you to respond with that answer?
Perhaps you’re thinking of the previous six days and see yourself standing on a milk crate on the corner of Burnside and Powell in downtown Portland screaming the Gospel to people walking by. Or maybe you see yourself interrupting a conversation at a local coffee shop and plopping your Bible on the table as you share the Romans Road? Or better yet, maybe you see yourself secretly placing tracts (brochures) that talk about the Gospel on the toilet paper dispenser in a public restroom or on someone’s windshield. For many, these tactics aren’t necessarily “bad”, but they’re too “weird”. I mean, you don’t want to be “that Christian” right? So we typically take the safe route when we want to share the Gospel and we do this; we simply, in a non-confrontive and non-threatening way, invite them to church. I like this. I really do. Inviting someone to church is a great thing, but it’s a B-List tactic if you want to live out the Great Commission. It’s like being a police officer, showing up at an active crime scene involving a deadly gunman. Everyone’s taking heavy cover for protection. There’s some serious gunfire happening right now. And you arrive in your vehicle, get out, take cover with the others, and then stand up with a bucket of fried chicken and start walking toward the gunman. You’re hoping the gunman is hungry enough to come over to you and eat some chicken and while he’s checking out that bucket of chicken, your officer-friends will swoop in a take the gunman where he or she needs to go. It’s not a terrible tactic, but it’s a dangerous one and it rarely works. We can’t be satisfied living out the Great Commission with buckets of fried chicken only. So the big question for today is “how do I live out the Great Commission” in everyday life without being “one of those people”? Well, there’s no guarantee you won’t be seen as “one of those people”, but there is a guarantee that if you live a certain way, you’ll live out the Great Commission daily.
The Great Commission in your life doesn’t start with opening your Bible, it starts with opening your life. These days Bibles are everywhere; there’s no shortages there. Now this may sound sacrilegious, but if people wanted to read the Bible, they would read it. If people wanted to look in the Bible for truth, then chances are they would’ve already done it. People want to see the truth in action. They want to see it with their eyes, not through philosophies or Scriptures they don’t understand because they aren’t spiritually capable. Mentally capable? Probably so. Spiritually capable? Only if the Holy Spirit empowers them. But your best shot at sharing the Gospel with the world is opening your life to one person. When I say, “open your life”, I mean starting with this: being honest about your sins.
What!? That’s right. Being honest about your sins. Some mistakenly believe their sins will ruin their witness for Jesus. But it’s just the opposite. The seemingly absence of any sin in your life is what turns many unbelievers away from Jesus’ overflowing love. It’s like wanting to be just like the teacher’s pet. Remember “that person” in school? Everyone secretly wished they could be the teacher’s pet, but outwardly ridiculed and made fun of him/her. No one could stand that student. “Who do they think they are!?” Unbelievers look at our pretty lives, secretly wish they could have it, and then they either realize it’s a sham or they become disgusted with how pure it looks. They would be right on both fronts. Let me tell you why.
First, no Christian’s life is pretty; not if the Christian is open and honest. The appearance is a sham. The truth for every person, yes every single person, is messy at best (c.f. Romans 3:23). Secondly, they should be disgusted because anything less than authenticity is plastic fruit on the table of a person who hasn’t eaten in weeks, months, years. It’s a cruel joke that isn’t funny. We may be laughing because we think we look good to the community, but the community looking for God’s answers to life’s questions isn’t laughing and they aren’t amused. They’re hurt, confused, lonely,…hungry. And the one people, the Church, who has been given The Answer to it all is serving up plastic fruit while we keep the real stuff in our personal pantries.
Be honest about your sins. Be open about your sins. Your sins won’t save people, but your visible struggle, your visible pain, your visible humiliation, your visible tears, and your visible redemption will point people to the One True God; because only Jesus could pave the way for you and only Jesus could pave the way for them, and they desperately need to meet Him. Without your open and honest life to share, sins and all, then you’re cruelly serving, with a big smile on your face, a starving child plastic fruit. Are you satisfied with that?
What kind of witness for Christ are you? Are you an effective one? Are you real to others? If you think you could be better, I want to challenge you to do something for the next ten (10) days; just the next ten (10) days. I want you to pick one unbeliever that you already have a relationship with, and I want you to make a time to meet with them over coffee or on a break. During this brief time, I want you to confess something you’ve done or are doing that you know isn’t right in God’s sight, and you have not yet dealt with it. I want you to confess it to him or her privately. Then I want you to tell them that you know God isn’t pleased with your behavior or thoughts. If they try to make it “no big deal”, then insist that it’s a big deal to God and therefore it’s a big deal to you. Confess you have a difficult time not doing that thing. Tell them that you need prayer and forgiveness. Don’t ask them to pray, but you ask if they’d mind if you two prayed together, and you pray for yourself. Ask God to forgive you and thank God for His forgiveness and your friend’s friendship. Ask God to watch over that person and to bless them. After you pray, thank him/her for listening and ask if they’d mind meeting up again to talk more about your sins.
Listen, this is not a gateway for you to walk them through the Romans Road. This is not a “bait and switch”. This is the authentic and messed-up you being honest with someone about what you know needs to change. It’s about giving someone with no hope in Jesus a front row seat to what God already wants to do in both your life and theirs. Go into this only with the hope that your friend will witness the true forgiveness and redemption you so desperately need. And when they do see it, really see it, they’ll crave it and you’ll be ready to give them the real fruit their body and soul has always needed, but never had.
If you take this challenge, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear how God is working in your life and your friend’s life as you live out the Great Commission in their presence.