July 7, 2008
Unashamed of the Gospel
by Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
I found myself in unusual situations and conversations quite often this past week including a theological dinner discussion with a devout Mormon friend and a cultural discussion with a hair stylist who embraces an alternative lifestyle.
I didn’t even get to experience my normal Sunday service. I attended a service at a church close to my parents' house. Everything from the style of building to the songs we sang to the level of social chatter felt completely different from the worship service I encounter every Sunday.
Needless to say, I felt out of my element – very out of my element – this past week. And if you’ve ever spent any length of time outside your comfort zone, you know how exhausting it can be. You constantly question, “Am I saying the right thing? Do they like me? What’s going to happen next?”
In some situations I found myself wanting to close up, to hide my true thoughts, feelings, or identity to make the hours flow better. The energy that might go into thoughtfully and respectfully disagreeing with a person’s or community’s viewpoint just seemed like too much. Better to just lay low, agree with everything and everyone, and return to my normal life on Monday.
Then I realized my actions were a bit hypocritical. If I honestly believe God’s truth is relevant to every aspect of life – even necessary to life -- and that God is always present to assist me in times of need, then why am I burying it all at the first sign of awkwardness? Why am I hiding my true identity in Christ as if it was something to be ashamed of or something others couldn’t possibly understand?
As Christians, our purpose in life is to seek Truth and serve Him. That doesn’t mean we’re called to be heavy-handed preachers in everyday situations but our faith should permeate our very beings – right? We shouldn’t (and if we are following faithfully, couldn’t) be hiding the light of Christ just because a situation is uncomfortable or feels foreign.
I think the hardest part about these situations is simply letting go of the outcome and giving it to God. It’s tempting to see another person’s discomfort or disapproval as a failure on our part to share the Gospel “well enough” and to be honest, losing a popularity contest stings a little. So we just opt to be the uncomfortable ones as we work hard at stuffing our true thoughts and faking a smile.
The irony is, when we engage in thoughtful discussion with gentleness, logic, and love people often reveal a great desire to seek out God, truth, and goodness. Most people don’t expect us to be the perfect messengers but instead value honesty and integrity - so much that we may see our popularity increase.
So instead of hiding, next time I find myself in a challenging conversation, I'm going to simply release the outcome to God. Even if a conversation appears to go poorly on the surface, we never know how God could use it to draw the other person – or us – closer to Him through that encounter.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Is there a situation in your life where you feel uncomfortable speaking openly about your faith or revealing your Christian identity? Is there someone in your life who you’ve held back sharing the Gospel with because you’re sure they couldn’t possibly understand? Pray about ways you could bridge the gap between the two worlds. You don’t have to force the issue, but ponder a way you could change your behavior or words to more accurately reflect Christ.
The Holy Spirit and Gospel Evangelism - Ray Pritchard