How do you share the gospel with your friends or family? I’ll never forget sitting across from my former employer in his small restaurant, gazing into his wrinkled smiling face and grasping for the right words to bring up the gospel to him. Most of the time my words end up scurrying as far away from my mouth as they can to hide in the deep recesses of my mind. I always feel weak and inept at explaining my faith to people. That morning sitting in the restaurant, I found myself fumbling and stumbling for the right words, the perfect explanations and arguments that would convince him he couldn’t make it to heaven on his own. If only I had the power to change people’s hearts with a word.
Why Is It So Hard?
More often than not it seems there is an invisible wall we must push past to share the gospel with people. Why is it so hard? I think part of the reason it is so hard is because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win the argument, to say just the right thing. Another part, I think, is that we can make it too personal. Instead of making our conversation about the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, we make everything about sharing our experience, but this makes the conversation so personal that feelings easily get hurt.
Either way, we think it all depends on our efforts. When we walk away victorious after a heated debate, we feel we’ve done well. When we stumble over even starting a conversation, we feel guilty. There are definitely things we can do to be better evangelists, like learning more about the Bible, learning of the extra-biblical evidence for the resurrection, gaining experience with sharing our faith, etc. But approaching evangelism as if it’s all on us is the wrong approach and a major reason why we get so tied up in knots over it.
Consider Paul’s perspective regarding his witness to the Corinthian church:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
God took Paul, a zealous well-educated Jewish scholar and leader and changed him to be God’s mouthpiece for the gospel. If anyone could convince people through winsome speech, if any would have the passion to be fearless, it would be Paul. Yet Paul himself tells us that he came to the Corinthians in “weakness and in fear and much trembling.” But Paul notes that his weakness ended up being a channel for God’s power. The faith of the Corinthians will then be rightly placed upon God and not upon Paul. The power of salvation doesn’t lie with us, but with God.
The Power to Save
It’s not our words that communicate saving grace, but the Word. The Word incarnate, Jesus Christ is pursuing the lost in power and strength through the Holy Spirit, and it doesn’t depend on the grandeur of human skill. In God’s unfathomable wisdom, he has ordained to use weak vessels to convey his life-giving power to a dying world. Their weakness doesn’t hinder God’s strength.
Thankfully, my frail and weak words aren’t what it takes to save people. It is the power of the Son of God dying and rising from death that brings people to their knees before a great and holy God. While my words never seem good enough, God’s Word, the good news of the gospel, is good enough and powerful for salvation (Rom. 1:16-17).
Resting In God's Power
Knowing this actually makes me bolder to talk about my beliefs with others. It makes me strive more to be open about my Christian faith, to wear my faith on my sleeve as much as possible, and stop worrying about exactly what to say or when or how. The more I learn God’s words and meditate upon Christ’s victory over sin and death, the more I’m able to talk openly and boldly about Jesus to others.
The point for us is to tell people the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, providing a defense for our faith. It is the Holy Spirit who works through our witness to bring people to him. This done with humility, kindness, and love are what the Lord desires of us as we seek to tell others about him. The Lord knows that we are weak and frail creatures who need his strength, and he supplies it to us abundantly.