There are not many things that strike fear into the heart of a follower of Jesus more than having to talk to someone about Him. It is easy to be overcome by nerves wrestling with all the hypothetical ways the conversation could go south. What we often miss is that God is the one that starts the conversation, that is, if we are listening to the other person!
It is interesting to study how Jesus communicated His life changing message with those that crossed His path. Yes, he did preach the Gospel to large groups but He also shared the life giving message one on one. I am afraid that we take too much responsibility for passing the truth of Jesus along frequently overlooking the fact that God is already at work in a person’s life.
I am an example of that. The day that a classmate never had a hint that God had been working in my life over several weeks the day he invited me to a Special Service at his church. He later shared how nervous he feared that I would humiliate him in front of others. Yet, the soil of my heart was prepared to respond to the life changing truth of what Christ accomplished for me on the Cross!
The title of this article is a little misleading. I have learned over the years that the vast majority of conversations about Jesus are not started by me. It is a matter of me responding to what the Lord is already doing. So what do I mean by what the Lord is already doing? The Bible reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the one who does the work of bringing individuals to Jesus. Jesus reminds us, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8)
So how do I recognize when the Spirit is working in someone. Well, we do not always know, but I have observed one indicator. They ask spiritual questions or throw out a spiritual statement. They might say something like “Would you pray for me?” or says something like “I have been thinking about going back to church?” It is these spiritual statements that reveal a spiritual work going on inside them. I have experienced this more recently with the development of our church property. I have had workers and even people driving by stop and ask “So, what kind of church is going here?” Now it is easy to brush this off as curiosity, but I have observed that the Spirit is working in their lives. And this leads to a second aspect of sharing Jesus with others, being a good listener.
I never cease to be amazed at how the Lord provides open doors in casual conversations to talk about him. The challenge is that we don’t miss them. Let’s take the question asked above about the church… It is an open door for me to ask after I have shared a little bit about our church to ask “Do you attend church?” What I discover is that God is already working in them. It has allowed me to encourage those that profess to know Jesus but have fallen away. Recently, it opened a door to an individual that was bitter towards Christianity and being raised as a Pastors Kid.
I wonder how many opportunities we miss because we are not looking for them! The Apostle Paul says it best, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14) Can I challenge you to give it a try this week?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson