Incentive Number Three for Discipleship: Nearly 90% of Christians can’t/don’t share their faith.
This third incentive is probably the most humbling of all the others. Jesus said; Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Clearly we’re missing something when close to 90% of those who have experienced new birth, regeneration, remission and forgiveness of their sins have a problem sharing that incredible truth! Many Christians I know are ashamed to talk about Jesus, and will hardly spearhead a conversation towards faith in God, the Kingdom of God, and becoming a child of God. I know faithful believers who can readily talk about the Lord when one opens the conversation or with other believers. Their lives demonstrate that they belong to Jesus, but there is fear; fear of rejection, of being labeled, of hostility, of repercussions, persecution, bullying, mockery, losing friends, status, or even of not knowing what to say, and this list could go on and on.
My experience has been that Christians are not so much unwilling as unable! They feel insecure, unlearned, and not called to be a witness. They believe that’s the job of the evangelist, the prophet, the teachers, and so forth. We find believers wanting to make an impact with their lives, but we must also be "ready to give an answer to any man that asketh a reason of the Hope that is in us with meekness and fear!" 1Pet.3:15. We're certainly not advocating that every Christian become an apostle, evangelist, or a teacher. No, there are only a few of these offices in the body of Christ. What we're aiming for is to equip the saints of God to be authentic in every area of their lives, so that whether working on their jobs, serving their community, and just doing their daily routines in their interactions with fellow believers, their neighbors, business associates, employees, managers, customers, strangers and relatives, the character and love of Jesus will shine forth. This is being a witness that will stir people's hearts to ask questions and want what God's people have!
New Christians tend to be more willing to talk about Jesus and the gospel, whereas older Christians tend to find it harder. Why? The classic hymn goes like this... "The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows".., it seems it should become easier. However, as God's children go past the elementary phases of Christianity, they enter the wilderness stage where trials and difficulties pile up, and they don't understand what is happening or why, so they feel let down, unclean, insecure, and just not at all enthusiastic about their faith. Very little of God's love is evident in their lives, therefore they don't feel like sharing it. Our wilderness journey can drag out for years, even decades, and when we’re in the heat of the day, Christianity don't sound appealing at all.
That’s’ another reason for discipleship! To help believers understand what is happening to them, to help them see the wilderness and it specific purpose in our lives. You see, when we’re new Christians, we don’t understand ourselves yet, we don’t know our own hearts and the depths of the wickedness lodged therein, but in the wilderness it gets brought to the surface like dross when gold goes through the furnace. And when we begin to see all our ugliness, our pride, our selfishness, our ambition, our unsurrendered self, we are not so enthusiastic about sharing what God has done. To top it off, we don’t see this dross, this ugliness, as something God is doing out of love, we attribute it to Satan working against us, which is true in a sense. But why would God allow Satan to afflict us? Why would He let Satan trouble His children, the apple of His eye?
The answer is; God allows trouble to come into our lives because He desires us to become like His Son in attitude, character, and motives. He wants our lives to reflect Christ's love, compassion, forgiveness, forbearance, mercy, humility, and all those other characteristics that highlighted the life of Jesus. It is evident there are very few of these character qualities in us naturally, even after being born again, therefore, God knows exactly how and what circumstances are necessary to develop these godly virtues in our lives. Because God can only use us in direct proportion to our faith, brokenness, faithfulness and humility, much of a believers life is spent getting shaped and molded in these critical areas. When we consider just these character qualities on a child of God, it pains my heart to realize how quickly a saint could make it through the wilderness - if only they understood what God is doing in that season. This makes the call of discipleship an urgent one indeed.
Sharing our faith should be our nature! Just imagine one of us in an impossible situation, maybe financial foreclosure, maybe in a life and death situation, maybe trapped in a fire, or accident, or drowning, and someone risked their all to save us and did. How would we respond? Could we just be casual about it? Would we forget it or the person? Wouldn’t we treat that person with utmost respect? How is it that God’s people, who have be saved from everlasting destruction, from eternal banishment from the presence of God, and from paying for their own crimes, find it hard to witness of so great a salvation?
In 2001 when the twin towers were hit, hundreds of people were trapped above the point of impact with no way out. Many plunged to their deaths knowing there were going to die either way…, that’s hopeless and helpless. In exactly the same way, we were all hopelessly and helplessly trapped in our sin and lost condition, and by the redemptive work of Jesus we were literally saved from an impossible situation through the supernatural work of Jesus. How come we can know hundreds, even thousands of people trapped just like we were and are not crying for their deliverance, or showing them the path to deliverance? The answer is amazingly simple! We don’t feel like we’re as delivered as we say we are.
Deliverance is a huge thing. When Christians struggle with lust, fear, anxiety, unforgiveness, anger, rebellion, for years on end, they find it hard to glorify the work of Jesus because they feel let down. They feel God has not kept His promise to them. I used to believe this way too, but God was merciful and made me understand my own heart. It was a long painful process, but eventually God showed me that He really did love me, it was my actions, my attitudes, my hangups, that He didn’t like and was using life’s circumstances to show them to me. I remember being agitated for days on end about fellow Christians who would take advantage of liberties, again and again, and again! It seemed God was causing me to see these inconsistencies even though I wasn't looking for them. It didn't help one bit to become agitated and confront the situation; it only made it worse! But through such circumstance, God showed me how His Son dealt with a thief in His own midst, and slowly it dawned that God was after me, not my fellow Christians. (Of course, God wants all His children to mature!) He was after my heart, my attitudes, and was only using these situations to bring them to my attention. When God exposes our heart for who we really are, how little love is really there, it's one of the most humiliating and humbling experiences there is. Only then do we realize we're the ones in need of deliverance! We're the ones with the ugliness in our hearts! We're the ones who mask pride, arrogance, unforgiveness, selfishness, honor-seeking, controlling, holier-than-thou spirits, lust for power, etc, by religiously plucking at the splinters in our brothers' eyes while ignoring the beam in our own! God's people need to be delivered from these strongholds in order to be effective, and only as they understand God's workings in their lives do they feel encouraged to share His hope, His Love, and His salvation with others. Imagine a believer stuck and struggling in a mire of despair, depression, unforgiveness, bitterness, fear, anxiety, and turmoil; and beckoning to the lost world..., "Come to Jesus, come to Jesus for deliverance!!!"
I fully understand how sensitive this topic is, but it must be brought to the light! We must admit how needy we are, how helpless to do anything that pleases God; and speaking of these areas helps us come to grips with the urgent need for discipleship - real Biblical discipleship. Being able to share our faith, witness of God's grace and love shouldn't need to be mechanical, or done out of a sense of guilt or duty, but purely out of gratitude and love for what God has done for us through His Son.
May the Father grant the necessary grace to all readers to receive this teaching as from the Lord, and not from men, amen.
Reuben A Walter