What Does Jesus Want Me to Do?
Posted on June 19, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
Simple answer, difficult assignment: “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10: 37-40
We live in a divided, contentious world.
We live in an age when church attendance is declining. In England and Europe, regular attendance is between 5% and 2%! Since people will not attend church, how do we reach them? We need new ways.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Can Religion Still Speak to Young Americans,” points out that “The fastest-growing population on the American religious landscape today is ‘Nones’—people who don’t identify with any religion. But if we look at the reasons that ‘Nones’ themselves give for not identifying with any religion…as they perceive it…, are that they ‘question a lot of religious teachings’ (60%) and, relatedly, “don’t like the positions churches take on political/social issues” (49%)’” The specific ‘religious teachings’ and related “positions” they object to most often concern sexuality and science.” Interestingly, the more conservative denominations are declining at a lesser rate that the mainline denominations which tend to embrace a more liberal view on these issues.
Jesus ate with sinners. So should we. He did not, however, “hang out” with sinners. He mingled with them on everyday occasions as we do in normal life. As He did, He had opportunities to show them Who He was and what He could do. How can we reach the unsaved if we do not associate with them? And we need to listen to them, not just preach! Listening helps you understand where they are in their spiritual journey and prompts you to better tailor your discussion with them.
So, how then do we witness?
One way is person to person or one on two or three. People are not necessarily anti-religious; many simply do not know about Jesus. Or perhaps they have had a bad experience with someone “religious”, whatever that means to them. Many are far more concerned with money and “stuff” and what’s in it for me? Religion is simply unimportant or irrelevant.
We can’t give an invitation on every occasion in these types of engagements, so how do we evaluate progress or success? One way is to, at the end of every week, recall all of the questions that were asked of you that relate to your faith. This will help you evaluate your effectiveness and progress, and give insight into how far you can extend the conversations, leading to a potential for proposing the salvation question.
Jesus told us that the second great commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” But who is your neighbor? In Leviticus, it was your kin (19:9,10.17,18); in Zechariah, it was outsiders of the faith, people surrounding you (3:10); and in Luke, it is everyone God brings into your life (10:25-37). That would include the ‘Nones!’ Very interestingly, Jesus’ answer to which is the greatest commandment is the only thing recorded to which the Scribes and Pharisees agreed.
Unfortunately, many Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians know the answers to questions that have never even been asked! Henry Nouwen said, “I am the most dangerous when I know I am right.” (I heard that quote but did not see it in context. I’m assuming he is referring to portions of scripture that are not black and white, not settled.) Answers to unasked questions provided by people who think they have a corner on truth do the most damage to the soul. Spiritual dogmatism must be handled very delicately.
Sometimes it’s best just to listen rather than to debate. Learn to practice convicted humility. That simply means that you don’t know the whole story in the lives of those with whom you are speaking. You have your convictions based on your spiritual information. Unbelievers or new Christians do not have that accrued knowledge formed by Scripture, but to a non-Christians, their mindset is formed by their native ethnic background, personal experience and the media.
They won’t buy into your understanding in one meeting or if your force it down their throat as the only possibility. When confronted in these situations, ask yourself, “What would Jesus want me to do to be most effective?”
An added effective strategy when witnessing and in discussion is to be certain that you acknowledge what the other person’s point of view is, perhaps by restating it to them as in, “If I understand you, you are saying…” Then go on with your thoughts.
Finally, at the close of the conversation simply ask if you have permission to pray for them.
I remind you again that some have the gift of evangelism. If that is not your gift, and for the vast majority of us it isn’t, remember that you were given power to be a witness, not a judge.
Written By Neil Fichthorn: Rev. Neil Fichthorn is a seasoned conference and camping servant having served at Gull Lake Bible Conference, Sandy Cove Ministries as President, and an interim Executive Director at Pinebrook Bible Conference. He also served in church music for decades as a choir director and arranger. He has been Bill Welte’s mentor and friend for over 45 years.
Think About This: “God never made a promise that was too good to be true.” – D.L. Moody
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil [i]treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. –Luke 6:45
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.