Why we should share Christ with others: Because we love them
By the Rev. Canon Phil Ashey,
American Anglican Council
May 28, 2016
Several weeks ago I had a wonderful conversation with the friend of my college age daughter. She and my daughter room together, and the Asheys were enjoying a visit to their new apartment near campus. My daughter's friend and roommate is Jewish, but decidedly agnostic after biblical and Rabbinical studies in a seminary. My daughter has been sharing Christ with her friend for almost two years now. While she and the rest of the family were hanging new pictures on the wall, I sat down with her friend and just inquired into her life, her studies, and her interests.
We soon discovered that we share an interest in counseling and "healing emotional wounds." One thing led to another, and I saw an opportunity to share about how Jesus Christ can actually be truly present with us in the process of inner emotional healing through prayer and counseling. She immediately engaged me about Jesus, because she had never heard anything like that from anybody. So for the next two hours we talked about Jesus-who Christians and Jews believe him to be, what the Bible actually says about Jesus, who he himself claimed to be, how to make sense of the Trinity, the problem of pain and evil, and more. It was an honest, courteous and challenging exchange. It was truthful and loving. I came to know my daughter's friend in a new light, and to appreciate the way her questions challenged me to articulate my faith in a more coherent way. I know from comments my daughter shared with me later that her friend felt cared for in the conversation too.
I'm a great fan of James Engel's Whatever Happened to the Harvest? and how he defines evangelism on a "scale" or spectrum. So, for instance, if we find someone at the far end of the scale as a hardened atheist and through loving conversations about Jesus help them move to becoming an agnostic who admits the possibility of the existence of God-well, that's evangelism! It's moving people towards a personal commitment to follow Jesus isn't it? Sometimes it's helping to move someone from atheist to agnostic, or from questioning the claims of Jesus to praying the sinner's prayer. But in every case it's about sharing Christ with others, and the difference he has made in our lives because we love and care about them.
I used to be afraid that if I made a mistake, couldn't answer an objection, or irritated someone by sharing Christ I might turn them away forever. That fear paralyzed me, until the LORD took me to I Corinthians 3:6-7, where Paul says of his evangelistic work "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow..." (emphasis added). Our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ is to look for the opportunities in conversations to share about Jesus, and to do so lovingly, courteously, honestly, with an ear tuned to the needs and questions of the person we are sharing with and a heart of love for them. If anything, my conversation with my daughter's friend reminded me that people don't care what you know until they know that you care!
But in the end it's God who gives the increase. So we can be confident in lovingly and winsomely sharing Christ with others precisely because we love them and care about their eternal destiny!
I was saddened to read the article published by the Christian Post on May 23 in which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was quoted as saying that Christians should not initiate conversations about Jesus Christ with people of other faiths. You can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/zb8vbyj
On the Mainline
Worship with us:
Sundays at 4:00pm.
210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA