Faith is not a spectator sport. We learn from the example of others and from the teachings of the bible it’s true, but discipleship involves a lot more than watching (observation) and waiting (reflection).
True discipleship means that we follow God’s will and live by His standards. We’re involved in His mission and we’re committed to His cause. As a result, the attitudes we adopt and the way we live, will be (or should be) markedly different from those values generally adopted by wider society.
In a media rich age, communication takes many forms and all of them have been used, at one time or another, to explain the gospel. How, though, do we take our explanation of Jesus’ love beyond the level of personal example? How might we put our experience of Christ into very simple and straightforward terms that becomes both understandable and attractive to our friends?
This is nothing new: throughout Christian history, the church – that is the fellowship of believers – has embraced and proclaimed the Gospel as the only way to real peace and eternal hope. This has been expressed through personal example and the willingness of believers to share publicly and clearly their experience of Christ’s saving grace.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples (Psalm 96: 2-3)
If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don't get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism, but deception. John Piper
To think about
- What does it mean to make Christ known?
- Why might it be so important to make Him known?
- Where do you find it hardest to share your faith publicly? Why do you think this is so?
- What would help you to share your experiences of Christ more effectively?
Please read 1 Ephesians 5 verses 15 to 20 and 1 Peter 3 verses 13 to 18.
Peter is writing to Christians in Rome who were facing severe persecution. It was the time of Nero and Christians were routinely imprisoned and their assets seized. It would be very easy to give up or to lie low in such circumstances but Peter encourages this young, growing and multicultural church to stick to their principles. Doing good will bring its reward even if the immediate reward for such behaviour is more persecution.
Confidence and clarity (1 Peter 3 verses 13 to 18)
- How might fear (of others or of consequences), affect our ability or willingness to share our faith?
- What resources do we have that will enable us to give an answer to everyone? (see verse 16)
- What kind of attitude should we have to those who are out to catch us out and/or who don’t understand our faith?
- Peter refers to “keeping a clear conscience (verse 16).” How might an appropriate admission of our own struggles help our hearers to understand that Jesus welcomes everyone?
- How do these verses encourage and help you to share your faith? Who will talk to about Jesus?
Don’t wait for a feeling or love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father, and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps in evangelism because you love God. It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God. (John Piper)
Community and commitment (Ephesians 5 verses 15 to 20)
- In what ways do John Piper’s words put a clear perspective on our motivation for sharing our faith?
- When’s the right time to talk about Jesus? Do we have to get to a particular stage? Please explain your answer
- Paul lists (verses 17 to 18) some aspects of the Christian life which demonstrate faith and commitment to outsiders. Which of these are still valid today and what might you add to the list?
- What place does celebration have in the witness of the church? (vv. 19 to 20)?
- Our stories are important. They’re personal and real. We are not the people we once were. How do we make sure that we recognise God’s place in our story so that we don’t take centre stage?
To think about: Making the most of every opportunity
- talk about God’s plan: peace, life and hope
- the big problem: sin separates us from God
- only one solution: the cross
- our response: receive Christ
- live a Godly life: return to step 1