As a person, I am pretty outspoken. At least 80% of the time, I have no problem jumping into a conversation. Few (if any) people in my family hold themselves back from asserting opinions, though we try to do it tactfully. So it’s not a huge surprise that I generally don’t have an issue as a Christian with sharing my faith.
I don’t think I throw it in peoples’ faces. I don’t like to get into online debates. I try to live my life the way I think Jesus would want me to, then if the opportunity arises where it wouldn’t be totally random, I will talk about my faith. I am also really (genuinely) interested in other people’s faiths. I have a friend from work who is a Mormon. And I realized that I didn’t really know much about Mormonism other than that they believe that the Bible should have the Book of Mormon. And I didn’t know what the book of Mormon was about. So I asked her. We spent about 20 minutes at lunch just her telling me and me asking questions. She knows I don’t want to convert, but she knew I was curious. I think that it’s important to understand what those around you believe. If you don’t want to hear what they believe and want to share only what you believe, you are basically telling them that you want them to believe in your faith and totally dismiss what they believe because it doesn’t matter, not even enough for them to tell you what it is. How offensive. If someone treated my faith like that…I would want nothing to do with them.
But when the situation arises, I do like to discuss my faith. Even if the person thinks what I believe is totally not true, as long as we can talk about it respectfully, it’s cool. I just want to share. A lot of Christians have told me how intimidating it is for them to share their faith. They work with or go to school with people who are not only unreceptive of people having a different belief, but they are disrespectful and ridiculing. That is a tough situation. I totally get how uncomfortable and frustrating it would be to work with or have class with someone who day in and day out would think you were less educated or less respectable because you are a Christian.
But here’s the thing. When we avoid the opportunities presented to us to share our faith, we are protecting ourselves. We aren’t thinking about the other person’s eternity. We are worried about our comfort level, our reputations, and how our situation could be altered. Because in America, that’s almost always all we have to lose. “All we have to lose?! That’s a lot to give up!” we think.
Let me introduce you to Yohan Perera, who met Tom online because of a blog post Tom wrote. Yohan is a Christian in Sri Lanka. He risks his life to spread the good news. THAT is putting it on the line. That is taking a risk where there is something valuable to lose. And where there is something very valuable to gain. How many souls might be brought to Christ because Yohan doesn’t hide his faith when he feels the urge to share? I was reminded of Jim Elliot‘s famous quote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Yohan is living that out by sharing the gospel in a place where he could be attacked or even killed for what he believes. He may or may not put his church online, but he is there living his faith out and sharing it every day.
It completely humbles me when I think of how easily we can worship and share our faith in our country. I am so grateful for the freedoms we have in the USA and for the men and women in our military who fight to maintain our freedoms and rights. What a blessing to be born into such an easy situation. I can’t even imagine a life where I had to hide my faith.
I know a few people, missionaries in China and Turkey, who have to be very careful about their ministry so they aren’t thrown out or the people they meet with from that country put in danger. It’s amazing that these people answered the call to leave their comfortable lives here and go risk it all there. I try to remember to lift them and the others they meet with up to Jesus for protection and the ability to share their faith and make fishers of men out of natives to the countries they live in. Now I’ll be adding Yohan to the list.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.