Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Fear of Sharing Christ

Sometimes it is hard to share Christ because of fear, and sometimes it is hard to receive Christ because of fear. Now there are countries in the world where it is illegal to share Christ or accept Christ. But even in countries where this is not so, like the United States, there can still be considerable fear involved on both sides. We, as believers, can be afraid of alienating people, especially people who mean something to us. We may fear being ostracized. We may even be afraid of jeopardizing things such as our employment. But it can be even worse for the person who hears. They may feel they are giving up not only the beliefs they were raised in but their culture if they listen. They may risk alienating family and friends. It may mean having to change their life and habits in ways that make them feel uncomfortable. It may mean giving up everything they feel they value. Sometimes Christian leaders may picture large numbers of people who are ready and eager to hear the gospel. There are such people who are ready. But there are many other people who are afraid of what becoming a Christian involves. The gospel is to many people a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:22-25). To give Christians the idea that evangelism will always be easy is to set them up to fail. 

Now one danger here is to overreact in the opposite direction. Faced with our own fears and the fears of others, it is possible to react by being as forceful as possible. We can harden ourselves so we do not consider the distress we are inflicting on people. We can end up being as nasty as possible and alienating people rather than winning them. This is not the Biblical pattern (Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:15). Now we are required to be bold (Acts 4:29-31; Ephesians 6:19,20; Philippians 1:20). But there is a difference between boldness and obnoxiousness.

How then do we approach this issue? The answer is, with faith. With faith that God is at work in us (Colossians 1:28,29; Philippians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18) and that He is at work in the lives of the people we are sharing with (1 Corinthians 3:6-8; John 16:8-11; Matthew 16:18). This will give me the confidence to do what God wants me to do-- whether it is to share with my neighbor, talk to a family member or even go as a missionary to a foreign land-- knowing that God is in control of my life, even if things do not turn out as I would like them to (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10; 1:11). Further, it will give me the patience to work with people in a firm but gentle fashion over the long haul. For when we trust God, He can accomplish in and through our lives what He wants to accomplish (Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Hebrews 11:6).

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