Recently someone asked about what makes it possible to share about one’s faith concerning the Good News of Jesus in a way that is natural and authentic. Here are some of the elements that come to mind both in an objective sense and also in my own personal experience.
- Authentic Experience I think one of the first things to keep in mind concerning authentically sharing the Good News about Jesus is to feel at home with the nature of the Gospel. What I mean by that is that you have not only a deep conviction of the truth of the Gospel but are truly experiencing it in your own daily life. Sharing the Gospel should not be a sales-pitch. It is not a memorized presentation. It is sharing out of your own life-experience about the reality of God and your trust in him concerning the Good News of His Son. It is living the experience of the Gospel. It is living in relationship with God moment by moment, talking with him, listening for his voice and being obedient to what he tells you. This means you, having a sense of at-homeness with God.
- Simple Structure It’s important to remember that the Gospel is simply the story of God in Jesus. The focus is not on church, or some religious piece of dogma. The focus needs to be on the climax of God’s story as the revelation of His greatness and reality in the person of his Son. The objective ultimately is to introduce someone to Jesus much as you would introduce someone to your best friend who is with you.
- Your Story One of the best ways to share the Good News with someone else is to answer inquires about your life by telling them what makes your own faith so real, and so relevant. Often the opportunity comes in response to a question about where you grew up and the basic orientation of your own life. Recently, for example, a stranger with whom I was traveling asked me about my story — where I had grown up, my family, where I lived, why I ended up doing what I did. The question enabled me to talk about why Jesus and service in the church had become the main focus of my life. I shared that my parents came from religious backgrounds but really didn’t have an authentic Christian experience until someone came along who told them about the life and significance of Jesus as described in the Bible. Because they experienced a deeply personal relationship with God through their faith, they shared much of it with us, their children — speaking to us about evil having its source in the original sin of Adam and Eve and about how God prepared a way through the Jewish people for the coming of Jesus, and his death on the cross for the purpose of forgiving sin. The truth of this was proven by his resurrection from the dead.
- Genuine Love In order to share the Good News about Jesus you have to genuinely like people and find them interesting in the same way that Jesus did. You demonstrate this interest in other people by liking others, by being attracted to them, by seeing the value and potential of their lives, not in a condescending way, but in a way that shows you really can learn and benefit from their lives. I have found that one of the best ways to show interest is to ask questions starting with simple ones like, Where are you traveling today (if I’m on a plane)? or, Are you traveling home today or away from home? This leads easily to questions of geographical location, work, family, and interests. It usually doesn’t take long for the person to say something about their values, the things they consider important. And because you demonstrate an interest in them, it doesn’t take long before they want to know about you. This is an opportunity to tell them what makes you tick — mainly your faith in Christ.
- Prayer If you want to share genuinely about Jesus, you have to be talking to him about the people around you. Ask God for opportunities to tell others about him. Ask him to guide you to the right people in that process. Ask him to help you be ready to engage a person in conversation and to have the words to say.
- No Pressure I think it’s important not to feel under compulsion to talk to someone. There is no limit to the number of people who need to hear, but the key is to talk to the ones that God is leading you to address. Since telling the Good News is really the work of God’s Spirit, it’s important to wait upon him to direct in that work and conversation. If someone doesn’t appear to be interested or responsive, don’t worry about it. Follow the prompts of his Spirit. Relax. If you don’t get a chance to talk about the Gospel, don’t panic. Sometimes it’s enough for someone to know that you care. You can always pray for them, even if your connection doesn’t lead to a personal conversation about Jesus.
- Crucial Question After you’ve shared your own story of faith, the sense of blessing that it has been in your life (assurance of life after death, hope, love, peace), it would be appropriate to say something like this: Have you ever come to the place in your spiritual life where you knew for certain that if you died, you’d go to heaven? Or, Do you feel like your ready for the moment of death? Follow this up with a qualification question like, On what basis do you feel you’d be accepted into heaven? Usually the answer to this kind of question is that the person feels like they are accepted by God. But, of course, most don’t really know. This is your chance to very simply explain the Gospel.
- The Gospel The good news is really about knowing Jesus. It is also about having assurance about one’s relationship with God. The Bible makes it clear that we can be sure of the promise of eternal life. (These things are written in order that you may know that you have eternal life, John 20:31.). Knowing God comes through faith, and faith is simply believing what you have concluded is actually true (the words of the Bible).
- Expressing Faith The most important Bible facts to believe, and that lead to assurance, are: a) that God is our Creator and the one to whom we all are accountable for our lives, b) that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23), c) that God prepared the way for the forgiveness of our sins by the coming of Jesus who lived as a perfect person, d) that Jesus died on a Roman cross as a sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16) making it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins forever (and then proving the truth of his claims and his forgiveness for us by rising again from the dead), e) that anyone of us may actually experience God’s forgiveness by believing that Jesus’ death and resurrection is sufficient for the forgiveness of all of our own sins, and f) that by asking for God’s forgiveness through Jesus, one can actually be forgiven and be accepted by God forever (Romans 10:9, 10, 13). This is what it means to be saved.
- Prayer Ask if the person agrees with what you have just explained. Then ask if they would like to pray to ask God for his forgiveness of sin because of Jesus’ sacrifice for them. Lead them in a simple prayer of faith — perhaps sentence by sentence. Dear God, please forgive me for all of my sins because of Jesus death and resurrection. Please come into my life and make me a new person. Help me to follow you all the days of my life. Amen.
So, those are a few points that I think are good to keep in mind if you want to be about the Father’s business. Prepare your heart in love, faith, and prayer, and then let God lead you.