By Matt Dawson
Let me just come out and say it:
One of the largest reasons we struggle to share our faith is selfishness!
Plain and Simple. Not only do we NOT SHARE because “it’s all about us and our fear” but even when we do share – we sometimes share for the wrong reasons. We don’t know it’s the wrong reason, but when we approach evangelism from any angle that is selfish or manipulative, we dishonor God and fail to do what He’s asked us to do IN THE MANNER He asked us to do it in.
This is a passage we’ve looked at over the past 2 weeks. I want you to see 2 words that I think make a HUGE IMPACT in how we approach sharing our faith.
“…if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.”
1 Peter 3:15-16
What do you think he meant by saying “keep your conscience clear?”
I think Peter is directly addressing our MOTIVATION to share Christ with others. It’s only from a PERSONAL motivation of speaking and living in such a way that WHEN you share your story with someone of the HOPE you have in Jesus – your conscience can be clear.
We’ve all seen people try to “sell” Jesus to someone or “convince” someone to come to their church because it will be better for them! It sounds SO HOLY – yet no one really respects it because it has a sleazy used car salesman feel about it. The motivation is WRONG and they cannot have a clear conscience when doing it.
Let me give you 2 examples that go along with the 5 Guidelines that we’ve been talking about in the The E Word:
You Can’t Fail.
When our motivation is to try and CHANGE PEOPLE and CONTROL THEIR BEHAVIOR by sharing Christ with them – we CAN and MOST LIKELY WILL FAIL. Our job is not to CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE. Jesus has that covered. It’s HIS JOB to reveal sin, to transform us from the inside out. This takes time and a surrendered heart.
For example: We don’t share the message of Jesus with the LGBT community because we want them to stop being gay! or DO WE??? When driven by selfish motives to CHANGE someone (stop being gay) – we USE JESUS like a TOOL or a SELF-HELP PROGRAM to try and get someone to STOP DOING what we don’t like or don’t approve of!
Is this THE GOSPEL? Is THIS why Jesus gave His life! ALL BEHAVIORAL ISSUES are a process of sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit. Many of us struggle with sharing our faith with those living that lifestyle and IF WE DO, it is almost always driven by our desire to SHAME them, GUILT them, and CHANGE them “for Jesus.” Our conscious will NOT be clear and they WILL be able to speak against us because of our SELFISH MOTIVES.
However, when we share the hope that we personally have in Jesus because we just want them to KNOW JESUS and have the HOPE FOR LIFE that He gives us – our conscious can be clear. Our desire should be that EVERYONE experience the ABSOLUTE HOPE for LIFE that comes from a relationship with Jesus.
Does our behavior change? YES… over time.
Does the Spirit reveal SIN and convict us of living a life outside of His ideals and instructions? YES… over time.
I trust Jesus to work in someone’s life as much as I KNOW He is working in my life. And when we share our faith with that kind of motivation… WE CAN’T FAIL!
NOTE: I wrote an article a couple of months ago addressing some of my thoughts concerning the church’s view on same sex attraction. I encourage you to go read it because the example above only covers a portion of my thoughts.
When our motivation is to get people to STOP SINNING because we don’t like their sin… our conscious cannot be clear because WE ARE STILL SINNING! Just because our sin is hidden and doesn’t bother us as badly as their sin, doesn’t mean God will honor our motivation in sharing a message of HOPE with them.
We have to BE OURSELVES. When we are HONEST about the struggles in our lives, the sin we continually deal with and fight against, and the failures we still experience because of our weakness, we can HAVE A CLEAR CONSCIOUS.
Trust me, people are looking for what is REAL! Our salvation and HOPE doesn’t mean that our lives are simple or our circumstances are now easy! BUT, we do have a HOPE to help us in the complexity of our lives and a HOPE to anchor us in difficult circumstances.
Be Yourself. Be REAL about your FAITH. Your conscience will be clear and people won’t be able to accuse you of hypocrisy and manipulation because the life you live will be transparent.
So let me ask you these few questions, and be honest when you answer them:
Do you want someone to have the Hope of Jesus?
Why do you care?
Is there any selfish motivation in your reasoning?
If so, I understand why you struggle to share your faith, your conscious isn’t clear.
Remember: You Can’t Fail (if you really just want people to know Jesus), Be Yourself (be honest about your struggles) and you will start to share your faith with a clear conscious. Follow all 5 Guidelines this week and help lead others to the Hope of Jesus.