...but my faith is personal
What stops you from telling others the gospel?
“Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””
The point of being a disciple of Christ is to be in relationship with the father, through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and make more disciples of Christ.
God created humanity, inviting it into his life of creating and relating. Christ empowered a worthless humanity to find its worth and purpose again within the life of God. The life of God is relationship.
Having a ‘private faith’ - as some say - is not Christianity. Christianity is a way of life designed to infect not only the individual disciple with an explosion of joy but to spread like a holy plague bringing those long-dead to everlasting life.
“Oh, but I just keep my faith to myself.” That’s not Christianity.
Half of you reading this may be cheering. The other half - how guilty are you feeling right now?
But what do you have in mind when I talk about ‘making disciples’?
There are a lot of things I don't mean. There are a lot of things it can look like but are only expressions of it, appropriate to particular people in particular moments.
So what is evangelism?
Making Jesus known. Not just as an idea to believe but a relational reality.
Not just an idea that we convince somebody to assent to. But a relationship with a person they can relate to.
How do we do that?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
That last line about him being with us. What if it isn’t just an encouragement at the end of the command that we use to spur us on? What if it is the key to the entire command?
The I AM (Exodus 3:14) - the God of The Beginning, the God of Now, the God of Ever After - is with us. So close it’s almost offensive to those of us who like our personal, prideful space. He’s pushed-up-against-us, with us. You move left, he moves left. You move right, he moves right. There’s no gap of air between you because I AM with YOU. Jesus’ actions opened up the life of the glorious I AM and invited you into it.
So how do we make Jesus known?
Keep relating to Jesus for ourselves. Then make ourselves known. As we relate to people, they relate to us. As they relate to us, they will begin relating to Jesus.
That’s why in Matthew:
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Pray therefore…”
The first domino of evangelism is your own discipleship; your own relationship with God. As you are discipled, those you live around will be discipled too.
The reality is that you already exercise influence over the people you spend your days with, whether at school, uni, work or in the pub. And they exercise influence over you. This happens simply by being ourselves. You already have people around you who you relate to. The Holy Spirit has made it so for a very good reason (Acts 17:26–28).
Choose today to be yourself, because you are in relationship with God, and people will begin to relate to him in you.
Two keys to unlocking disciple-making in your life:
1) We’re singing songs and praying prayers for Holy Spirit to ‘set us free’ to live for him. This is good. There can be hurts, fears, even curses which have hindered us from the fulness of life with God. However, the greatest hindrance to our relating to Jesus and helping others relate to him is simply our own disobedience. Here in the West we know so much yet obey so little. If we say we know God yet don’t obey him, we’re fooling ourselves. Gideon, Moses etc. were too afraid to obey God. So what did God do? He didn’t heal them of their fear so they could obey. He told them he was with them. They obeyed, and found their fears allayed as they walked with him.
2) In our world which pursues perfection and performance, we can think the best thing is to woo others to Jesus by showing our lives as strong and intact. But what if we were to invite people to relate to us in our weakness and vulnerability? To turn the culture on its head and be open to our friends about our struggles, our sin and our doubt? And as we invite them into our weakness, and we bring our weakness to God, they will see God’s strength and grace in our weakness and waywardness. After all, it is his weakness which brought us into the life of God.
You don’t have to be perfect to make disciples. You just have to be alive.