Retreats with God
He leads me beside the still waters...He restores my soul...
It seems like one of the most common reasons people shy away from being bold for Jesus is their lack of confidence in their own knowledge of God's Word or being able to articulate it to someone else.
Although this is one that often comes up, I've noticed lately that there are some other lies that I sometimes feel tempted to believe about sharing my faith that, for a long time, went undetected and I never even noticed I was thinking them until God brought them to my attention. I felt compelled to share these because I started to wonder if maybe others have these same thoughts lurking in their minds beneath the surface.
Lie #1: I probably shouldn't tell anyone for fear of 'offending' them.
Something that I ashamedly confess I have struggled with off and on since becoming a believer is the fear of what unbelievers will think of me because of my adherence to God's Word and faith in Christ. I think the fear arises from so much hype about being "politically correct" and not wanting to "offend" other people, and it being grounded into my brain from so much exposure to this type of teaching from graduate programs and society in general.
But this fear is a lie. The truth is that Satan tries to blind us from the reality of God's promise that the gospel is the "power of salvation for everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16).
God also brought to mind that the gospel is offensive to unbelievers (1 Cor. 1:18-25). Although we share it gently, some may reject it, or even reject us personally. But we'll never know who will be receiving "the power of salvation" until it's shared, so the fear is a lie!
Lie #2: The person I have in mind probably won't listen anyway.
The reality is that sometimes deep down I have the faulty, distorted belief that some people do not seem like good 'candidates' for hearing the gospel. I realize this is foolish and laughable when I actually verbalize it, but underneath I sometimes think that others will "never" come to faith because they are so adamant about their own beliefs about there being many ways to God, or that God doesn't exist, or whatever it might be.
Based on the fact that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), none of us are good 'candidates' to belong to God and receive the gift of salvation. But God, being so rich in mercy, lovingly called us to Himself, gave us the grace to trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and changed us through His Word to reflect the image of His Son. And that is not our own work, but His (Ephesians 2:8).
So then, why do I have this tendency to think in the negative, that some people are just 'too far gone' and there's no use in evangelizing to them because their beliefs are so firmly held?
Again, it's a lie. It casts a shadow over God's miraculous truth that He saves even the "chief of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15).
This morning was when God revealed to my heart this deeply held belief I have that has hindered me in sharing Christ. But I am thankful that He revealed it, because I can confess it, receive His forgiveness and renewal, and move forward in boldness.
Paul, the "Chief of Sinners"
One example from scripture that came to mind was Saul. Saul persecuted believers in Jesus to the point that he sought them out to kill them. He made it his aim to capture them, bring them to trial, and execute them (see Acts 7 and 8). He was even present when Stephen was stoned, and gave "approval to his death."
Later, upon his conversion to becoming a Jesus follower and being referred to as his other Roman name, Paul (Acts 13:9), he called himself the "chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15) and referred to himself as an example of God's marvelous grace being bestowed (Ephesians 3:8).
Not By Merit, But By Rescue
Knowing then that the merit we have is only by grace, just as it was in Paul's situation, ought to spur us on toward the realization that God can and will rescue whoever He pleases, not who is most "qualified" to become a believer based on their good morals or good works.
This reminds me personally that there should not be a barrier of who I share Christ with based on whether or not they 'seem' like they would receive it. God calls the most unlikely misfits, ourselves included, to show the miracle of His amazing power and might.
Lie # 3: I'm not in the right place with God today to share my faith.
Another lie that we can sometimes get caught up in is that since we are aware of our own sin, we may feel unworthy to share our faith with others. After all, if I'm such a sinner, wouldn't others just think I'm a hypocrite? Of course, when there is sin in our lives, we need to be taking steps to uproot it.
But there is another angle to this that I think Satan preys upon, and that is the use of condemning thoughts to keep us thinking we are not "qualified" to share the truth with others. Well, this morning I didn't have a time with God, I was irritable with my husband, ...so I can't possibly explain to someone that I'm a Christian and how they can know Jesus. These condemning thoughts should instead bring us closer to the cross and not farther from it. God showers us with His mercy and forgiveness as we run to Him in repentance, and God's grace enables us to share our faith despite our own failures.
Unashamed and Fearless
After the Holy Spirit convicted me this morning about my unbelief of His ability to save those who 'seem' most unlikely to be saved, I also realized that this belief had caused me to be ashamed and lack boldness. I feared how people might react to me being a believer since it was so far against their own beliefs, let alone the uncertainty if they would ever receive the gift themselves.
We have to be willing to accept that when we embrace that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), others may reject us personally or even persecute us.
This is something that I have really grappled with in prayer, asking God to empower me toward boldness and fearlessness despite what people might say or do. It will always be tough and we will always have to depend on His strength.
I think of Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." I have been meditating on this often, asking God to make this truth something I cling to that motivates me toward fearlessness.
Also, 1 John 1:18 comes to mind,"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." If we have fear, it's because we haven't fully grasped God's perfect love, that He came to save sinners, and gives us the privilege of reaching out to others to share this great love.
I pray that He would help us grasp more and more of His love that casts out that fear of what other people might think or do. Also praying that he would empower us with boldness for Him as we meditate on these truths!
What about you...have you ever harbored fears of what others might think about your faith? How does God's truth and love combat this for you? How does it affect your witness to others? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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Hi, I'm Tessa! I suppose I could sum myself up by confessing I am a crazy cat lady, amateur sewist, nature lover, bookworm, fabric fanatic, mental health advocate, craft enthusiast, tea addict, and an 'old soul.' Jesus is my all in all, and I'm so thankful that His love NEVER fails.