That got me to thinking along so many paths ... with all the cascading events happening in the world, how do I reach those who need to know Jesus? What is my best approach? And how do I avoid all the pitfalls, missed opportunities, and wrong approaches that the evangelistic movement has participated in over the last few decades? How do I reach the lost and skeptics like Jesus did? Because I know, without a doubt, that time is running short.
My husband and I have no lack of testimonies of the times we failed to reach someone for the Lord. Whether it was the time a friend could have been interested in pursuing Jesus if we had had the answer to his question, "Where are dinosaurs in your Bible"?; or our inability [and spiritual immaturity] to authoritatively explain our reasons why we don't believe God controls everything in our lives -- which could have shown a believer that we too often blame God for our wounds, when it is the devil that is the initiator of our pain. Needless to say, these shortfalls only made us more determined to seek better ways to represent Jesus to those who so desperately need Him. And I'm seeing just how desperate people are becoming, and just how much they are going to need His Presence in their lives in the near future.
When I encounter a non-believer, I now focus on not just knowing the truth of the Bible in the following verse, but doing it: So prepare your minds for action, be completely sober [in spirit—steadfast, self-disciplined, spiritually and morally alert], fix your hope completely on the grace [of God] that is coming to you when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:13). I am prepared and alert for those opportunities that present themselves to tell of my faith in Jesus. I'm not afraid or self-conscious -- in fact, I am confident of who I am in Christ, and who He is in me, so that I do not let the Enemy cower me into silence. I know that the Holy Spirit will give me the words I need because this time in history requires that we stand on our faith; and to continue to stand, even in the midst of rebuttal, repudiation, contempt and chaos. There are lost souls that need our witness in this hour!
So, how should we witness? First, I believe we need to recognize the mindsets of those who intentionally reject their need for Christ, whether they identify as atheist, agnostic, or just disinterested. We are now in an age of advanced technology, and our faith can look superstitious, and/or devoid of any connection to science or modern culture. Furthermore, in this era of equity and inclusion, many Christians can appear intolerant, judgmental and bigoted. And need I even mention the label that is most associated with Believers ... hypocritical. Sadly, many atheists can back up their position for non-belief better than Christians can justify theirs for faith. We need to grow up into a mature faith to be effective in modeling the benefits of salvation through faith in Jesus!
And what about those who profess belief, but find themselves doubting in these perilous times? They need our mature and wise witness, too. It can be difficult to counsel a fellow believer when you see them straying from the path of righteousness to which Jesus calls us. We don't want to appear condemning, or holed-than-thou, but again I find that Scripture gives me advice that best suits this situation. And again, our perspective when delivering the message is more important than following any "evangelical code of conduct". Consider the Amplified version of 2 Timothy 4:2: ... preach the word [as an official messenger]; be ready when the time is right and even when it is not [keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome]; correct [those who err in doctrine or behavior], warn [those who sin], exhort and encourage [those who are growing toward spiritual maturity], with inexhaustible patience and [faithful] teaching. The core of what I heard is this: we should be prepared at all times to speak to our fellow Christians when we see them in doubt or unbelief. We need to be willing to correct, rebuke and encourage, "with great patience and careful instruction".
You see, Jesus is our model! It was a time of great chaos in the Roman Empire when He appeared on the scene. Religion was in conflict with Roman authority, and then He brings the Kingdom of God into the mix, offending both factions. [Can you see that Christianity is in conflict with the culture and the governing authorities? And, as Kingdom ambassadors, we often find ourselves at odds with both the organized Church/Religion and the powers-that-be?] Rather than trying to convince those He encountered with how wrong they were, Jesus approached them about their attitude. What if we went right to the heart of the matter and testified that we aren't trying to convince them that Christianity solves all the issues of the world [that they are interested in], but rather, we are interested in why they are having trouble in submitting to Jesus as the Son of a God who loved them so much, He was willing to die for them.
Another issue that skeptics have is their pride in thinking they have all the answers. They will declare that Jesus has nothing to offer them. So when we share that they couldn't come to Him [even if they wanted to on their own] except for the fact that it is the Father who draws them, we can introduce a truth that there is a greater Power in the Universe than man. This life is fleeting, and what does one have to show at the end of it? What hope is there after your last breath? And so many times we are met with the arrogant reasoning of the flesh ... "I think God knows I'm a good person", meaning "So, I know I'm going to Heaven" -- whatever that means to a person who has no relationship with the Savior. But how are they going to answer Jesus when they stand before Him and He asks, "So what did you do for My Kingdom"?
It is so important that we speak in our authority as someone who knows the difference from living in our flesh and living in the Spirit. Our own testimonies of being drawn to Jesus through no desire of our own, and the miraculous ways it has changed our life, can spark a fire in their heart to take that first step.
It's time to face reality ... We find ourselves in an age where man's arrogance has led us to the precipice of destruction. The human race is dangerously close to passing the point of no return, and it is incumbent upon those of us who have been snatched from the edge to witness in our power and authority. It is time to educate, equip, and train others to go and speak into the world that the only way we can turn the tide of this upheaval in the world is to humble ourselves before the One who created us. It is time to surrender our very lives to follow His ways, faithfully teaching and encouraging; in patience and in love. But we also go forth in boldness and courage! Chaos does not scare us, and Evil does not deter us. Christ goes before us, battling with us, and Evil will be defeated, leaving righteousness in His wake. The way we live our lives will be a witness of our obedience to Him; He who is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, and the Prince of Peace!
Ephesians 6:19-20. And pray for me, that words may be given to me when I open my mouth, to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news [of salvation], for which I am an ambassador in chains. And pray that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly and courageously, as I should.