I was teased quite frequently as a kid. Whether it was for my small stature, my nerdiness, my girly first name, or having a last name that rhymed with "turd," I regularly seemed to be the punch line for the jokes of my classmates.
Because of this routine rejection, I began to do anything that would help me avoid the ridicule without compromising my beliefs. This meant wearing clothes that wouldn't stand out, not talking about the straight A's on my report card, only cheering for acceptable sports teams, and avoiding any conversation that might be controversial.
That last phrase meant I did not talk about my faith in Jesus. Most of my classmates knew I was a Christian. But I rarely discussed spiritual matters because I didn't want to give my peers further fuel to tease or reject me. While I believed the gospel, I was the anti-Paul of Romans 1:16 - I was ashamed of the gospel, because it might cause me to be further rejected by my fellow youth.
Today, as we continue our blog-only series, Before You Share Your Faith, we come to the crux of the series. When it comes to the concept of sharing the news of Jesus' death and resurrection, many Christians clam up like I did as a middle school student longing for acceptance. Perhaps you are wired differently and have never felt fear when given the opportunity to talk about Christ. If so - GREAT!
But if you are a follower of Jesus and like most Christians, when you have a chance to point to Jesus, you know the feeling of a brain that seizes up, a tongue that doesn't seem to work, a heart that decides to run the 100-meter dash without any warm-up, and a stomach that begins to tie itself in knots. So what can (or should) a Christian do to not be frozen by fear at the opportunity to share the life-changing message of Jesus?
There is a reason we've waited until this point in the series to address the fear that many Christians have when given the opportunity to share their faith. Remember, this series is called BEFORE You Share Your Faith. Keep seeking to Grasp the Gospel, Check Your Context, and Love the Lost. Doing these three things will help the fear monster shrink.
Throughout my twenties, whenever given the opportunity to preach (which wasn't very often), I would get horribly nervous. I wouldn't be able to sleep the night before, my stomach was in constant knots, and I completely lost my appetite (among other things).
However, over time, I began to welcome the nervousness for two reasons. First, I knew it meant I cared. And second, it was a reminder to pray. So I began to use the nerves as fuel to ask God to help me care more for the people than what they might think of my sermon.
If you find yourself nervous when given the opportunity to talk about God's love as shown through Jesus, welcome the nerves, and use them as a reminder to pray. That way if you do say something coherent, it will be God speaking through you, not simply you with your well-rehearsed canned speech.
The last tip I will give to help alleviate your fear is to use a technique Jesus often employed: questions. Ask lots of questions of your friend.
Too often, we think evangelism has more to do with our lips than our ears. But by asking questions and listening to their answers, you show your friend you truly care, and it will help your response about the gospel feel a lot less like a sales pitch and more of a true conversation between friends.
Next week, we'll conclude our series by looking at the importance of actually speaking the gospel. But know that your questions are a great way to help give your words meaning and be more likely to be received.
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