Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. – 1 Peter 3:15
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
It dawned on me recently, we don’t share the good news we have, because we don’t know how to. Years, maybe even decades of sitting listening to sermons, and we still can’t explain why we believe what we believe.
When we sense the burning inside of us that tells us we must open our mouths to what is such a gaping opportunity, we stumble along inside our heads, and end up saying nothing. We live in frustration. So the debate about whether or not I should go out on the streets becomes moot, because we cannot stand in front of a group of family and friends even, and explain what we believe. It is tragic, if not even a little amusing.
When we listen to another religion at our work, are we able to give an account of why Jesus is so central to all and everything; is our confidence to defend our Lord so high, that we jump to his defence as he asks us to, to give an account of the wonderful hope that is in us? Let me let you into a little secret, it is because the servants of the Lord have for so long kept their mouths shut at opportune times, that so many have become cold in the faith, unsure even themselves what they believe. In turn, this has had a profound impact on our society. We are on the defensive all the time.
When I shared once my faith with a man who works for me, he astounded me by saying he knew many friends of faith, but none ever shared with him and he was disappointed. He wanted to know what they believed, but they never took the time. Imagine that. Then again, maybe it’s not so uncommon.
So, for those who are interested, here’s a few tips;
Firstly, take the time to learn something by heart. Practise it by yourself and with some friends. There are some wonderful tools around, the internet’s not all bad! Google around for the ‘3 Circles’ a simple Gospel presentation that you can do with a pen and paper in 5 minutes to a non-believer. It may not be super comprehensive, but it will at least get us started, and most people will understand and ask questions.
Also, understand what some of the other religions believe. If you’re not sure, go and ask them! We speak with many Muslims and I wonder sometimes if they know more about Jesus or ‘Isa’ than some believers do. They seem only too willing to talk about Isa, which in turn is a great opening for us. We build bridges with people when we understand at least the rudiments of another’s faith, and it gives us an opportunity to contrast our faith with theirs. Why do we believe what we believe?
Then, understand Scripture and try to frame what Christ says about himself, so that we can reference the Bible in our explaining. Jesus did this all the time in his discussions and debates with others. ‘Scripture tells us…’ What can we explain to someone about the nature of God, or his character. Does God expect anything of us, what happens to us when we die, how can we answer the 7 most common questions of the sceptic (‘why does God allow suffering etc’). All of these are found in the pages of Scripture, we need to look for them with the intent of answering an unbeliever.
Personally, when I explain the Gospel, I always keep in mind the single-mindedness that we will all face God, and what will we need to do? After all I explain, surely a loving God would let us know what he expects of us? So then:
- Keep the law, escape the penalty
- Break the law, pay the penalty
I find that everything cascades down from this, even if I am not explicit in saying it this way. It allows me to explain the story with God at the beginning, and myself in relationship to him. It also puts Jesus at the very centre, and distinguishes him from all of the ‘also rans’ of other religions. Nobody else could, or would, pay the penalty for me. It leaves the listener under no illusion that they are ‘good enough’ but also that even though God has no choice, he has given us one. I can explain the one tenet that separates Christianity from all religions and philosophies, and that is the Grace of God through his Son. When we have done this, we can leave the rest to the Holy Spirit, who will lead us throughout all of this.
So, will we take the time to learn a simple story, maybe even just our own? Do we take Jesus seriously enough to listen to what he asks us to do? Come on friends, let us give honour to him by explaining to someone this week, why we believe what we believe.
You’ll never experience greater joy.