Tue May 22nd, 2018
When we look at Peter the apostle and see how afraid he was when Jesus was being tried, it is hard to comprehend what changed in him to make him the bold preacher who gave an altar call a few weeks later to see 3000 come forward to be baptised – and yet it happened. Peter went on to be a very bold man, who remained human and fallible but emboldened by the Holy Spirit.
We don’t all have to speak to thousands of people at once, but we are all commissioned by Jesus.
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt 28:18-20 HCSB
Yes, we are told to go and make disciples, but Jesus also tells us that he has ‘all authority in heaven and on earth – go therefore…’ and that ‘I am with you always’. What really matters is that Jesus has the authority that we go in and that we always have Jesus!
It is hard to consider being bold in advance, especially if you are not naturally an outgoing person, but if we take a step of faith we will not be let down.
We can all talk to people about our Jesus in the context of the normal daily routine, at work or shopping, at the school gate or in a waiting room somewhere, we don’t have to be extraverts, we just have to be human. Taking your dog to the vet, your child’s report evening at school, the canteen at work or the complaints queue in the shop, these are all places we meet people who are in need, in pain or simply open and ready to hear good news. We don’t need to prepare as sermon, we just need to ask God to prepare their hearts and ours too!
When I was young they used to teach us in church that if Jesus was prepared to hang naked on a cross for you, surely you can talk about him to others? Sounds a bit manipulative, but you have to admit there is a valid point there!
Jesus put it this way:
On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn't you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11
Life is fragile and opportunities are scarce, so when we have them it is wise to take them. I remember being in a community centre for a meeting and just about to leave when on my way out I met a particular lady who commented that she had just finished my book. I used to bump into her quite regularly and I was tempted to say “that’s great – I will talk to you some other time” and move on, but I just had the sense that this was a God given opportunity. So, I spoke to her for about 15 minutes in which time we talked about Jesus and I briefly prayed with her. I sensed that she had passed from death into life and made a note to keep in touch to do some discipling with her. The following week she was dead! A sudden, unexpected death! I am so glad that I took that opportunity, how would I have felt if I hadn’t?
This is not about me brow beating you into changing your behaviour, but this is about realising that when opportunities come we would be wise to take them.
We have to believe that the Holy Spirit will give us words to say! We should remember that God has helped millions of his followers over the years to say a word or two to others that have resulted in them becoming followers too! We don’t have to preach, but we do have to be friendly and be sensitive too. When we see the opportunity just mention Jesus. Talk about your experiences, offer to pray for them and just be normal!
Don’t be fake! I remember overhearing someone talking about a co-worker who was not a good example in the workplace, but occasionally he would get his Bible out and start preaching to them; the man I was listening to said ‘if he’s a Christian, then I don’t want to be one’. More than anything we must be kind and caring like Jesus. More often than not, we get the opportunity to speak to them about Jesus because of our character and behaviour, when that door opens we need to be bold!
Don’t fall into the trap of attacking them with your Bible! No one wants to be ambushed – let alone by a Christian! Let us always be sensitive and warm in our approach. Remember that if you aren’t friends when you have finished talking there will never be another opportunity to talk again! Sometimes we have to “buy” the right to talk to people about Jesus by investing in friendship and acts of kindness – those things are an end in themselves – God forbid that we should only be kind so that we can evangelise!
When I went to Secondary School, I decided to make ‘a new start’ and witness to one person every day. Sometimes by the time 4pm came around I still hadn’t achieved my goal and I had to talk to friends in the bus queues. I still pity those who couldn’t escape me because they were waiting for their ride home! When I learned that sharing as part of the normal day rather than “witnessing” worked better, the whole school was relieved!
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Col 4:5-6
Being ‘full of grace’ is just as important as being bold!
Godfrey Birtill wrote “there’s a lot of pain, but a lot more healing” and often pain is a subject of conversation and a great opportunity to meet Jesus. Pain anchors us to this planet, helps us to see the reality of life and makes us look over our shoulder for God. I am not saying God gives people pain so that they find him, but He will use anything that’s already out there to attract the attention of the people he loves. Sometimes it is pain that gives us an opening. Whether by visiting hospital or sick neighbours or care homes or simply by putting an arm around a crying colleague. We know Jesus – the God of all comfort –
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor 1:3-4
Don’t develop a reputation as a wet rag (someone who puts a dampener on everything), instead be a good friend to anyone who you can, be a listener as well as a talker and be a comforter to anyone in need. You will be surprised how over time people will come to you and ask you about the reason for your faith!
always be ready to give a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 1 Peter 3:15
Remember that people around you do not use those words that are unique to church – your “Christianese” – so don’t slip into that method of speech but tell them it like it is. There are so many obstacles in this world to hearing and understanding the gospel, that Christians talking gobbledygook are one you can do without. Pray for your colleagues and acquaintances – ask God to engineer opportunities for you and when they come up – don’t be surprised, just take them boldly! Pray for the broken hearted and then introduce them to the healer of broken hearts. Possibly the best and most fruitful way to talk to others is out of your own experience. If you have been comforted tell them about that.
Ultimately, we will all be bold when we believe the words of Paul:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes Rom 1:16
Thank God for his Holy Spirit, because it is through Him that we are emboldened, enabled and empowered to communicate Jesus to everyone around us. Seek the fresh infilling of His Spirit daily!
Andraé Crouch gave us a great summary of this in his 1994 hit “Say so”
Say so, say so, let the redeemed of the Lord say so
If you’ve been redeemed from the hand of the enemy
Don’t you think, don’t you think it’s time we ought to say so
Somebody really needs to know, no matter if they’re young or old
That we have the key, that unlocks the door,
To everything that they’ve been searching for
They want to know can anybody stop the rain
Will the sun ever shine again?
We know there’s hope, someone who cares
But how will they know, how will they know unless we say so?
…Be sweet, be kind, wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove, just talk about His love.