24th July 2011


“Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation [margin: conduct; the word Paul used embraces both meanings, editor.] always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV UK)

Talk to 10 people on the street, and likely you will find 10 different opinions about who God is, what God is like, how God deals with human beings and what God expects of us. Surveys have shown that even among Christians, ideas about Jesus—grace, sin, forgiveness, faith, repentance, obedience, etc.—vary widely. How much more do ideas about Jesus vary among non-Christians?

Suppose I were to approach a stranger and ask him if he knows Jesus. What comes into his mind? Is his idea of Jesus that of a melancholy-eyed weakling as so often Jesus has been depicted in art? When he was young did his parents tell him that Jesus hated jazz, cards, beer and Catholics? Maybe his neighbours today are Christians who won’t let their youngsters play with his.

With that background, how would our stranger be inclined to feel about my question, and about me? Probably annoyed, and already with his negative impressions of Christians and of Christ further reinforced. And all because I assumed that God doesn’t really care how we spread the gospel, just as long as we do it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 points out that there is “a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.” Among these are “a time to plant and a time to harvest” and “a time to be quiet and a time to speak up.” Francis of Assisi once said, “Always preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” People are not attracted to uninvited strangers who invade their space, but to those who have proven they care, people whose lives reflect the love of God.

When a person is curious about our Christian hope because we live as though Christ is the Lord of our lives, then that person has a more accurate perspective of Jesus because he or she has seen Jesus in us.

The apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:10: “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.”

God has richly blessed us with active parts in his work of building up the body of Christ, the church, and reaching out with the gospel to non-believers. The greatest tool he has given us is his own life, ministered to us by the Holy Spirit and reflected in the way we live.

It is Christ in us being radiated out to others with his grace and kindness that makes our witness to the gospel attractive.

Heavenly Father, our greatest joy is to share what you have given to us with others. But help us to do so with care, so as not to further antagonise those living in this godless age. We ask for your especial blessing on us as we meet and interact with others. Help them to see your light shining through me, as I live your walk in this life, through and in Jesus Christ.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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