Take A Stand
“They know where I stand.” I hear this all the time. As followers of Christ we can struggle with having gospel conversation, especially with close friends and family. We know that what people need is to be reconciled with the Lord, but we want to avoid damaging significant relationships.
One bad experience in sharing the gospel can cripple our ability to step into the conversation. Even a small tension can convince us it was a bad conversation. Our minds start to run and we wonder, “Was that an eye roll?” We add layers of disclaimer and can overemphasize common ground. It is much lower risk to simply make it clear that you are a Christian and hope that your friend will ask questions when they are ready.
The idea that we should declare ourselves followers of Christ is a good idea, but is it enough? I see people using social media all the time to make it clear they are Christian. Posts and comments directed to other sides of issues can make that painfully clear. Inviting friends to Christian events, church, and concerts is another common method of declaration. Our hope is that by living our life authentically and taking a stand that we are Christians, people will ask us for the hope that lies within us. The problem is they aren’t asking.
Why Do We Need to Speak Up About the Gospel?
The gospel is counter intuitive. Most people today believe that they are basically good people. Even when we do bad things it is easy to compare ourselves to others around us and know that we are, at least, doing better than them. If we do understand our need and brokenness, we are unlikely to throw ourselves at the mercy of a Holy God. Instead, we deal with our brokenness in any number of ways. One of the most common is to try a grueling method of self-improvement. We are convinced we can make ourselves better people! This is the loudest reason we must speak up about the gospel….it is counter intuitive. When we are commanded to make disciples, it cannot be by allowing people to “figure out the gospel.” They must hear about our deep need for grace and its provision in Jesus.
Here I will pause to say that by sharing the gospel we are stretched and deepened. Seeing God use me in leading others to Christ has been a life defining experience. It's a thrill to see how other sisters in Christ grow to love bringing others closer to Him. I am convinced it is the sweet spot of the Christian life to be engaged in ongoing gospel conversations.
For the love of God demonstrated to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is hope for us and for those to whom we speak. It continues to transform us as it falls off our lips. And it is what those around us so desperately need.
Don’t Let Others Speak for You
Today the media tells a story about what it means to be a Christian that is very loud. We are described in the political arena in ways that have prompted some to question the future of the word evangelical. We are characterized in movies and TV shows as naive and judgmental. Christianity Today has often written of the Ned Flanders effect, that the Simpson’s Ned Flanders is the most recognizable Christian figure. The word evangelism, for some, brings up images of people wearing signs and yelling from megaphones. These are not the people I want to speak for me.
For some who are outside the faith we are now at a deficit. They hear our proclamation that we are Christ followers, and they step back. They take a paint brush and dip it in the paint of any of these bad images and paint us with it. This is why we need to learn to have kind, skillful, clear and compelling gospel conversations.
Can you imagine if all those who truly follow Christ were having these kinds of conversations with people around us? Those we love would be saturated with a different message and have a new picture of what it means to follow Jesus. And, most importantly, they would not be left knowing only where you stand but they would understand where they stand before our Holy God.
To learn more about gospel conversations and to learn from Shana’s depth of experience, come to Verity Forum 2018 next week. Shana will be speaking in two workshops in the Speaking of Jesus Track.