IT IS A SUBJECT that has been raised countless times. Why do followers of Christ find it hard to talk about Him and share the Gospel?
It is basically a matter of fear. Like in many areas of life, fear operates where in reality the perceived grounds for it to rear its ugly head are actually non-existent. I remember when I first learned this lesson in personal evangelism.
My team leader in the campus ministry noticed that I had not actually shared the Gospel much with other unbelieving students. So he gave me an assignment: share the Gospel with at least one student every day for one week.
That was what I did. I found out that my classmates whom I had pre-judged to be critical of Christianity were actually open in my conversation with them, patiently listening as I drew the illustration to share the Gospel. There was this one student who was a philosophy major, one that I had thought would give me the toughest time. But as I shared with him, he was polite even as he declined to make a decision to believe in Christ.
The fears that make us hesitate about opening our mouths to talk about Jesus are mostly groundless. And we can only realise they are untrue after we have gone ahead to share in spite of them. I would go so far as to say that these kinds of fears are actually thoughts sown in our minds by the enemy (a.k.a. Satan, the deceiver, the liar) to prevent us from taking the first step.
We should not allow fears to occupy us so much whenever we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel, because fears make us focus on ourselves instead of God Himself. Paul says in Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Note: the Gospel itself is the power. So rather than focusing on our fears, we should just let the Gospel do its own work as we share it. Here the power is not in the messenger, but in the message itself. Can we understand now why our enemy wants to stop us even before we can say the first word?
But we cannot place the blame entirely on the enemy. The fear about possible negative responses by those we want to reach may be groundless. However, that we should even believe such lies is a true reflection of what is in our hearts. 1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Our reluctance to broach the Gospel simply means that our fear of being reproached or rejected by a person is greater than our love for God.
What would “perfect love” in this aspect look like? Paul, the great evangelist and pioneer church-planter, put it this way: “The love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor 5:14, ESV); “Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes.
His love has the first and last word in everything we do.” (2 Cor 5:14, The Message). While we are moving towards perfection in that direction, we cannot simply pass up opportunities that present themselves before us. Seize them. Talk about the Gospel.
When, and if, we face rejection and reproach in the process, we will find the love of God more than sufficient in those situations. It is in those very experiences that we are being perfected in love. If we do not act, we may also pass up opportunities for God to do His work of love in our own hearts.
This process of perfection is not only regarding God’s love for us. It is also about our love towards those we talk to, respecting their views, and continuing to be their friends even if they decline to believe. In this way, we can keep the conversation on the Gospel as an on-going affair.
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DR Wee Boon Hup