The Christian message (and the messenger)
As a Christian, I am called to be a witness for Christ. The “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20 commands me to “go and make disciples of all nations.” The Sermon on the Mount calls me not to hide my witness but to let my light shine before others.
In realistic ways, how should I share my faith with others that some might come to Jesus Christ?
Unfortunately, the impression many people in our society have is that Christians are anxious to hammer away at them until they surrender to Christ. In response to that approach Harry Emerson Fosdick counsels Christians, “We defend religion too much. Vital religion, like good music, needs not defense but rendition. A wrangling controversy in support of religion is precisely as if the members of the orchestra should beat folks over the head with their violins to prove that the music is beautiful.”
If we have to beat people over the head with our Bible to prove to them that God is good and loving, then something is wrong with our approach.
The wonderful children’s author Madeleine L’Engle adds, “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
In other words, the preface to telling others about Christ should be that we live out His love in a way that will interest people in what we have to share.
I truly believe that people all around us desperately want to know the love and hope and peace and forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus Christ will give them, but they will pay no attention to our words of testimony until they experience His care from us.
Once the necessary foundation of care is laid, our message of hope is needed.
Imagine you were on a boat that capsized (as happened to my brother-in-law). You are flailing about in the ocean waves. A boat comes along. One person aboard throws you a book consisting of maps, and charts of the prevailing ocean currents, and instructions on long distance swimming. What good will that do you?
Another person scolds you for not wearing your life jacket before the boat capsized, and he issues you a citation for breaking the laws of boater safety. What good will that do you?
Another person tosses you a diver’s mask so that you will be able to see the fish beneath you without getting salt in your eyes, and she encourages you to think positively and to make the most of your opportunity. What good will that do you?
Finally, someone else on board grabs a life-preserver, jumps into the water, and swims out to you. That’s what you need!
That’s the good news Christians have to share with people around us: God so loves the world that He didn’t leave any of us to flounder about in the ocean, but Christ jumped into our mess with us to rescue us. This is the message we have to share with people who long to discover the love and hope and peace and forgiveness and eternal life that Christ would give to them!