By Erin Bird,
I want to conclude our series on four internal shifts that need to take place within Jesus-followers as they share their faith.* So far, we’ve seen that we need to move from event-driven to person-focused, from combative to attractive, and from monologue to dialogue. This week, the last area I want to look at is to shift from a short-term view to a long-term perspective.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
When my family lived in Kansas City, a friend invited us over for barbecue ribs. He had slow cooked them on his grill for hours. When you lifted a rib to your mouth for a bite, some of the meat just fell off the bone – it was that tender. And the taste was amazing!
Now, imagine if my friend had thrown the spare ribs in the microwave. The ribs would have been done faster, but they would have been no where near as delicious. Instead of falling off the bone, the meat would have been chewy. What made them so good was the fact that my friend was willing to wait.
When it comes to evangelism, many Christians (who have great intentions) share their faith with a microwave method. They erroneously think if they tell someone about Jesus, their friend should instantly fall to their knees, pray a prayer, and then come to church on Sunday.
But more times than not, someone who doesn’t believe the gospel needs to let the story of Jesus simmer within them a bit. They need it slow cooked into their heart and thinking.
Take my friend Zac, for example.
Zac’s first job after college put him in a work group with two other guys who were both Jesus-followers. Zac was full of spiritual questions (some of which were intentionally antagonistic), but rather than give him microwaved answers, these two guys took the long-term approach. They befriended him, were patient with his questions, and accepted him for who he was. And slowly, over time, Zac began to move toward Christ. His antagonism faded and a true interest emerged. One of the highlights of my life was getting the email from Zac sharing with me that he had finally placed his faith in Jesus. A few weeks later, I had the joy of baptizing him.
I’m so grateful Zac’s friends didn’t take a short-term approach to sharing Jesus. Rather, they had a long-term perspective, waiting patiently for God to open Zac’s eyes to his need for Jesus.
So if you consider yourself a Jesus-follower, when you share your faith, don’t take a one-and-done approach. Rather, be the patient friend who loves others with a long-term perspective, realizing that God is not done with your friend, so neither should you.
*To give credit where credit is due, these four shifts come from Gary Rohmeyer, President of the MidWest district of Converge.