I’ve had a problem lately. I want to serve God. And I have specific people who are on my heart to pray for and witness to. And I try to. Sometimes I even do. But that is where I hit a snag. Bringing the full revelation of God, as much as I have it at least, to people who don’t know Him at all is both exhilarating for me and difficult. I find myself spending a lot of time debating whether this message will be heard right, and how this story will be perceived. I find myself both praying for God to give me the words to say to them but also wondering if those words are maybe “too much” God for them right then.
What ends up happening is I censor my Christianity. I censor myself, and I censor God. I pick and choose what parts of Him I talk about. I talk about His love and His peace – I leave out the part that we have to die to ourselves daily and follow Him.
This, to a worldly point of view, makes sense. I’ve always told myself that too. It’s not dampening God per se – it’s just giving an introductory course. And how can that be a bad thing? That’s how we learn things, a little at a time.
The only thing is, God doesn’t work the way the world works.
I’m coming to realize that this censored witnessing doesn’t cut it. It’s not good. As a Christian, witness to others and acting as a vessel, I need to show the fullness of God. I need to show my Savior in His entirety. All of it. His light won’t shine as brightly if I cover it with patches. His thoughts are higher than mine, and His words deeper – what merit do they have if they get filtered through my worldly mind first?
It is very, very easy to fall into this trap, but it’s a trap nonetheless. We are conditioned to be conscious of what everyone else thinks. Even when we don’t try, it is almost impossible to live life without following some trend or other. We navigate relationships, friendships, and work situations with tact and thinking through what we say. And so it is very easy to conform our words to fit the person we’re talking to.
But God doesn’t conform. He is constant, and unchanging, and there. He doesn’t conform. And we shouldn’t either. It’s not up to us to decide what aspects of God (who’s beyond our understanding anyway) will reach a person whose heart we can’t see. God is God. Let Him worry about that. We just need to share Him. He will take care of the rest.
So today I ask God for a heart to pursue Him radically, for all to see. That I pray with abandon even in earshot of my non-believer friends, and discuss Him freely, without worrying how it will be perceived. Today I ask that God light a fire in me so bright and unquenchable for Him that I no longer care about what will be the most effective way to say something, but instead that I live for Him, pursue Him passionately, and let His light pour out of me. I trust that He’ll reach the ones who need to be reached, and draw in the ones who need to be drawn in. I ask God for the heart to reject the worldly trap of censoring Him, and I invite you all to do the same.
Here is an excellent message that comes to mind that is well worth your time to prayerfully listen to and ponder –
May His Spirit flow through you unhindered and minister to everyone you come in contact with.
Have the courage, we all suffer with it at times!
I really enjoyed this post. Deciding how to share Christ with others is almost as complicated as our relationship with our Savior. I get what you say about the fact that God cannot be compartmentalized or censored. However, a person’s journey of personal purification (obedience) is secondary to the event of salvation. God accepts the sinner as is (Romans 4). I think most of us see God’s love and kindness before we realize what will be required of us in the relationship. Of course, repentance is part of salvation, but I don’t think we need to show others what will be required of them before they ever get there. I’ve heard stories of people receiving Christ and embarking on the journey before really knowing what God’s commands entail. God has a way of getting through to them. And of course, the meaning of the Christian walk of discipleship gets fleshed out as the new Christian builds a roster of (hopefully) strong Christian friends, attends church, reads Scripture, and hears from the Holy Spirit.
It is difficult to discern exactly how to express the Gospel to the unsaved. It should probably be custom-fitted to the individual. Paul spoke about being “all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Co. 9:22) I think gentleness is indispensable in the process of witnessing. But no matter how you slice it, this is one of the most prickly issues of Christianity. We need plenty of patience and compassion to proceed. Thank you for writing about it.
Yeah it’s definitely a balance. I actually went to visit a friend in the rehab hospital where he lives, and for a change of pace I brought another friend with me. The friend in the hospital is atheist, and the friend I brought with me was from church. She launched right into how his music was from the devil, how he should listen to prayer, how he needed to change all these things….when he doesn’t even really know who God is. It made no sense to him, and sure enough, I watched him shut down. He rejects Christ more than ever. So I definitely agree that there’s a time and place for everything. I guess for me, when the tough stuff does come up, I always get this thought flashing across my brain that I have to make it sound good, even if it means sugarcoating the answers. I almost feel like I have to sell God and sell Christianity. And I’m realizing more and more that God doesn’t need me to sell Him. His glory takes care of that all by itself. The tricky part is balancing the two – letting God be God and letting Him shine through in all His righteousness, and also having His compassion for people and seeing them with His heart to know what it is about Him that they need to hear first. It can be hard! One more reason to let Him lead. 🙂
I wish I had better ears when it comes to hearing the voice of the Spirit.
I loved what you said: “…how he needed to change all these things….when he doesn’t even really know who God is. It made no sense to him, and sure enough, I watched him shut down.” Bingo. We have to get turned on to the love of God before we can possibly trust and obey Him. I think we’re almost always safe when we speak to the unsaved about how much Jesus has done for us personally. Very few people will take offense at my praising my Savior because of what He has done for me. I can even talk about the benefits I’ve derived from following God’s commands. If someone gets offended at that, they are looking for a fight anyway. Another angle to emphasize is not the legal penalty for sins but the harm immorality causes to ourselves and others. Then we’re talking about sin from a health standpoint rather than a legal one.
You see what you’ve done, Rebekah? You really got me started on this. 🙂