My entire life I grew up being told that I had to follow specific rules and regulations in Christianity. But even as a child, I was never told “why” I had to follow them. I just did. As I grew older, as a teenager I rebelled. When you’re constantly told “be good, don’t do this, don’t think that”, but never told why, you start searching for deeper things…things that make life seem real. Without all the “rules”.
Thankfully, some incredible friends and mentors came into my life along the way, and eventually, the “whys” became so clear. And well into adulthood, I recommitted my life to Christ once again.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest things I didn’t learn growing up was how to witness my faith to others. If I didn’t even know how to be a witness, did I really even believe what I believed? It was pounded into my head that I should go out and be a “witness”, and yet, “witnessing” seemed to only happen right in the church, or for more extreme church members….they would corner people at Walmart and try to talk to them about Jesus.
There’s a place for that, let’s not get side tracked. I fully believe people like Mark Spence and Ray Comfort serve a purpose in this world. If nothing more, to challenge me in my own walk with Christ. I’ve learned so much from them on how to live and how to love and correct. And plenty of people have come to Christ through their direct teaching….I love it! But is that what all witnessing should look like?
Just as with teaching 20 different students in a classroom, they are all going to learn in a different learning style. So, shouldn’t it be the same when teaching the word of Christ? Shouldn’t there be different ways to witness the love of God to others?
I’ve never learned how to witness properly from Church. Ever.
But I have learned how to witness properly…from the atheist, the agnostic, the Hindu, the Muslim, and the Christian who has lost faith in all that he used to believe.
Why? Because most of them don’t want you to stand in their face and tell you that everything they have believed their entire life is wrong….just like you don’t want them to stand in your face and tell you everything that you believe about Christianity is wrong.
It’s not rocket science…..it’s just plain good Christ like people skills.
Culture has changed. We aren’t Samaritans and Jews at the well of Jacob (John 4). They were expecting Christ to come, per the prophecies that were highly regarded. But now, in today’s culture and fast paced world, the thought of “another realm” is preposterous. To the point of many Christians not even having “time” for a daily relationship with Christ. Or if they do, they have turned it into a battle among other believers while the dying world continues living without their influence.
I recently separated myself from my personal facebook account for this very reason. There are individuals who just aren’t good for the body of Christ — they need a good lesson in true love and selflessness. They are like poison, constantly trying to prove their doctrine, their rules (or lack, thereof), and their agenda. Who are constantly making a statement because their way is the only way. Whether it be old traditions, or new age theologies.
…I’m a Christian, and I don’t even like some of them. I love them, but I don’t like them. And I pray that when they truly do come across someone who could care less about their theology, that they don’t simply push them away and say “I’ll pray for you”.
The sad reality is that many Christians can preach all they want to their own friends, family, congregation and facebook friends, but when it comes to reality….a really true case of unbelief….they’d have absolutely no idea what to do.
I know…I’ve been there….
And so, there I sat, crying out to God about a new friend one evening. If you’ve never felt the heaviness of the fact that a soul might not ever make it into the gates of Heaven — that they might suffer for all eternity — then you haven’t truly ever loved like Christ loves.
As Christians, the culture that we are dealing with today has to be dealt with quickly but delicately in many cases. Layer after layer has to be cut through to get to the persons heart. Even some Christians (because we’re all human) build up hard layers around our heart.
My heart was heavy, because I didn’t know how to witness to this friend. Someone who I knew I loved, but who I couldn’t help whatsoever.
I decided to stop thinking about it, and just let it “be”. Let the relationship flourish and see where it went. It was the very first time I would truly allow myself to become friends with a non-believer. You see, my entire life I had been told by certain denominations not to befriend non-believers, and while I absolutely agree about this fact when your faith is shakey or when you’re a young believer….I think it’s almost necessary for those of us who are unwavering in faith. It should be an obligation to make time for those who want to be our friend, no matter what our religion status.
And so it began. A friendship was established. It flourished. It was lovely. I was never once hidden in my faith, in fact, I lived my faith outright in humility, but made sure my new friend knew I loved them just the same — never once cornering and “trying to convert”.
One short year later, this broken friend became a believer. And now, one of the greatest friends imaginable. And even if she hadn’t become a believer, she was an amazing person, either way. I was grateful she was part of my life, even if we disagreed on many things.
And then God placed another person in my life, the same exact way as before. Here she was, a friend….a really good friend. And yet, she had absolutely no desire to find God or anything to do with Him.
And now, once more.
Every single time, every single “witnessing” moment that came….it didn’t come in the form of cornering them and shoving God or theology down their throat. It came in the form of friendship. Dining at their table, never taking part in their “ways” or religion (or no religion at all), but in truly caring about their life. Not just one more “saved” tally mark on a chart.
Jesus is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on someone, otherwise, He’d be a hypocrite. So if you are forcing Jesus on someone, are you not guilty of the same? God gave us free will for a reason…He’s certainly not going to go back on His word and promises. But it is our responsibility to at least tell others about Him.
Don’t let this confuse you, by any means. Christ set a standard for us to follow for good reason. Rules and standards are set in place to protect us..to protect our minds and our hearts from the hurt of this world. Many of us realize this first hand. We are not to conform to the world. Going out and sinfully partying (drugs, excessive alcohol, etc) with your non-believing friend isn’t going to save them…and it’s going to influence you badly. But taking time to be a friend, being there for them, humbly directing them, answering their questions without judgement, and being that “gentle nudge”, can lay a solid foundation to their salvation.
And even if it doesn’t….sometimes you’re the planter, and someone else is the reaper….but that doesn’t mean you say “ok, I’m done with this relationship now”, unless you feel led to by the Holy Spirit.
I wanted to write this blog because I feel like so often, witnessing our faith to others is made into this big elaborate thing. And while it certainly can be, it doesn’t always look that way. Sometimes the greatest impact you can make in someones life is to live Christ to them….to be Jesus to them…..loving, caring, and guiding. Rather than just shoving knowledge and information into their face.
Ultimately, we’re all here for the same reason. To preach the gospel, first and foremost with our lifestyle, and secondly, with our words and His word. If you are the only Jesus someone see’s in this world, then you better make sure it isn’t just your “words”, but your actions…reactions…and love for people.
Stand strong in your belief, never being coerced into being “of the world”, but certainly in it.
Because as scripture says…
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.'” [1 Corinthians 5:9-13]
It’s funny how we’re told to judge those inside the church — those who say they are believers. And not to be friends with them if they have been warned about their sinful lifestyle and refuse to change…to not even dine with them. But when it comes to the non-believers, we are not to judge them, but to have a relationship with them if one presents itself….otherwise, what use are we here?