Prerequisites to sharing your faith?
Prerequisites to sharing your faith?
At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark commercial, when we care enough to give the very best, it’s a no-brainer that we want to tell people about Jesus. He is the best thing that you or I have to offer.
So when some folks tell us we must earn the right to share the gospel—what then?
As ambassadors for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20), be encouraged! Reaching out to people with the truth of the gospel is a right, a responsibility and a privilege that God Himself has entrusted to you. No prerequisites. Always be ready to offer the truth of Jesus with kindness and humility; God will bless you and make you a blessing!
Kindness, at times, calls for us to care for people’s earthly needs. And humility informs us that people might require us to show that we can be trusted in order for them to open up about spiritual matters. But these things are not particularly prerequisites or qualifications for faith-sharing—they are qualities of life God wants us to live out no matter what we are doing.
That said, many Christians have asked us questions about trust and relationships as these issues relate to sharing the faith, so we hope you’ll find the following useful.
How much of a relationship do I need to have with someone before sharing my faith?
Peter shared the gospel on Pentecost and 3,000 people responded in faith, not because he had relationships with them, but because of the power of the Holy Spirit. Sure, most of us are more likely to be called to witness to people one at a time, but it is often possible to share the gospel one-on-one with strangers. On an airplane for example, the stranger seated next to you may open up about subjects she isn’t comfortable discussing with family members or friends. “Divine appointments” happen everywhere.
Long ago I was handing out tracts at a location famous for drug deals and prostitution. I saw a young man leaning against a chain link fence and could not ignore the growing sense that I was supposed to tell him something. Though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I walked over and without a word of introduction, quietly said, “Excuse me. I think God wants me to tell you that He loves you and wants to set you free.” His eyes widened as he replied, “I just got out of jail. I was supposed to be on my way to a job interview and instead I came here to get high.” I shared Jesus with this stranger and he responded in faith to ask for God’s pardon. I didn’t earn the right to get in this guy’s business, I just did what I was told.
Even so, most people, including Jews for Jesus, want to invest in longer-term gospel conversations within the context of trusting relationships.
How long does it take to build trust?
Deep and lasting trust is normally built over time, as people go through trials and/or conflict resolution together. Most do not require that level of trust to have a spiritual conversation. However, Jewish people—and others who aren’t part of what they perceive as a Christian majority—do need to sense your respect for them. Many can size up your sincerity and sensitivity fairly quickly, and might even say something deliberately provocative to see whether you will judge or ridicule them for stating an opposing view.
Most people won’t distrust you based on differences of opinion if you state your difference respectfully. Show respect by asking questions and being a good listener. It probably won’t take long to build enough trust to begin a spiritual conversation. Take cues from the other person about how much to say or ask, and continue to nurture trust with each interaction.
What if I try to share my faith and the person responds negatively?
Remember: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Salvation by grace applies not only to those who receive the life-giving message, but also to those of us who offer it. We look for thoughtful and creative ways to share the gospel. But isn’t it liberating to know that when someone comes to faith, it wasn’t because we somehow managed to do everything right? It was God’s grace. Pure, simple, mind-boggling, heart-rejoicing grace.
This summer, as Jews for Jesus reaches out to strangers and friends alike all over the world, please pray that He will pour out His grace on our efforts. And for your own evangelistic efforts, pray for grace, practice grace . . . and watch God lavish His grace where you least expect it!
Ruth Rosen, the younger daughter of Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen, is a writer, editor and speaker who loves to discuss the glory, grace and transforming power of God through the gospel of Jesus. Next month you’ll get to hear from our executive director, David Brickner, as usual!