The Blessing of His Presence (7)
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12.11, 12
The great hindrance
It is not accidental that, in the same breath Jesus commanded His disciples – and us – to make disciples as we are going, He also assured us of His presence with us always (Matt. 28.18-20). Making disciples is our primary calling in this world, the work that should define our daily walk within the Personal Mission Field to which the Lord has sent us. But making disciples can be scary work, especially the part that finds us proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom to people around us.
Evangelism has fallen on hard times in our day. Instead of following Jesus to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19.11), we have decided to let the lost seek and find Him, and we do everything in our power to attract them to our church with that aspiration in mind. We’ve turned our Sunday morning services, which should be joyous celebrations of Jesus and His victory, into spiritual delicatessens, where we invite seekers and those who have already found, to indulge whatever they find helpful, and to leave whatever they don’t particularly fancy, without complaining about anything. We do what we can to encourage unbelievers to feel right at home in our worship, bending as much as we can to suit their familiar interests and comfort, and we rejoice when one of them seems to find the Lord. We do not fear having unbelievers come to us to hear the Good News.
But what’s scary and off-putting for many believers is the thought of going to the lost to tell them the story of Jesus.
I’m persuaded that one reason the work of evangelism has all but dried up among evangelical Christians is that we are fearful of the task. We’ve convinced ourselves that most people aren’t interested in spiritual matters, and so we’re afraid they might not welcome our overtures to talk about such things. We’re afraid they’ll laugh at us, think us naïve or silly, or that they’ll lash out or talk about us behind our backs. We don’t like the thought of being yelled at, dismissed, or asked a question we can’t answer. Most Christians today have set aside the clear and undeniable mandate of the Lord to be His witnesses and make disciples because we lack the courage necessary for this important part of our Kingdom-and-glory calling.
Courage is a matter of the heart, as we might expect (from the French, cour, heart). A fearful heart loses courage because it focuses on threats, dangers, and things that can go wrong. But if we’re practicing the presence of Jesus, living toward the promises of God by worshiping and walking with Him day by day, we won’t see the threats and dangers as such, because we’ll only see Jesus, victorious, reigning, empowering, and coming again.
The Spirit of God makes us bold to bear witness for Jesus (Acts 1.8). He also, as Jesus indicated, gives us the words we need when the opportunity for bearing witness arises. As we dwell in the presence of the Lord, and know the rich and joyful blessings of being with Him always, He will give us the outlook and abilities we need to carry the blessing of His Good News to the people He sends us to each day.
We’re in good company when it comes to lacking courage to witness. Even Paul sought the prayers of his fellow believers so that he would not falter in this matter (Eph. 6.18, 19). We should not be ashamed of fearing to witness; however, we must not give in to our fear, but, in the presence of Jesus, find renewed vision and power to carry out this blessing-laden part of our calling.
The courage of Christ
We can overcome our fears if we remember what’s involved in living toward the promises. Prepare for being a witness by coming into the Lord’s presence in prayer and His Word. Think about what you might say, and to whom, as you interact with Lord in your daily times of preparation. Plan what you want to say, even to the point of practicing some phrases of the Gospel in your prayers to the Lord. William Wilberforce, the great 19th century Christian reformer, used to keep a list of what he referred to as “launchers,” phrases, questions, and other conversation starters that he might use to engage someone with the Good News about Jesus.
Then go in the good works and holiness of the Lord, so that you show Jesus to the people in your Personal Mission Field by all your words and deeds. Take every opportunity to express the love of Christ or share a word about Him with the people around you, as you plunder every moment and take the time of your life captive for Jesus Christ (Eph. 5.15-17).
The more you practice the courage it takes to witness, the more courage you will have, and the more your witness will flow naturally from your being in the presence of the Lord. Jim Kennedy used to say, “The more you evangelize, the more you evangelize.” He was simply saying what I just did, that talking to others about the Lord, out of the joy and pleasure we have with Him, becomes itself a joy and pleasure so real and vital that we cannot not talk about Jesus at every opportunity.
We do not have to succumb to fear in telling the Good News of Jesus. As we live toward the promises of God, basking in the joy and pleasure of His presence, He will bless us, and make us a blessing to others, by giving His Spirit to empower and script us for this important work.
1. What is the Gospel? That is, given an opportunity to explain the hope that is within you (1 Pet. 3.15), what would you say?
2. How can believers help one another overcome the fear of man that hinders our witness?
3. What will you do to prepare and plan for being a witness to Christ each day?
Next steps – Demonstration: Start a conversation about spiritual matters with someone today. Pray about what to say, and to whom. Jot down some ideas. Take the initiative in the contact (go for coffee? grab some lunch? ask you a question?). Then make a point to do this every day.
T. M. Moore
This is part 5 of a 5-part series, Living toward the Promises. You can download this week’s study as a free PDF, suitable for personal or group use, by clicking here. You can learn more about living toward the promises of God by ordering a copy of the book, I Will Be Your God, from our online store (click here).
We invite you to register for the free online course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview. In this course, we provide a sweeping panorama of how life in the Kingdom of God unfolds in an age in flight from God such as ours. Set your own schedule and study at your own pace. Learn more, and register for One in Twelve, by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.