I love to talk about Jesus! I get such a charge from hearing what Jesus is doing in people’s lives and sharing what He is doing in mine. When I trade testimonies with fellow believers, I walk away filled with the Holy Spirit and encouraged to walk more closely with God. Although it isn’t as easy, I like telling my non-believer friends and family these stories, too. I love to tell people about the miracles He has done in my life, how He has transformed my marriage and my family, and how it is pure joy to watch the Holy Spirit work in my husband.
But do you know what trips me up? I get so caught up in (over)sharing what God is doing, that I don’t create an opportunity to share the Gospel with him/her. I get so wrapped up in trying to convince someone that God is real that I forget to give them an opportunity to open up about their beliefs. By the time I am done sharing, I have scared them off by all the ‘Jesus talk’ that they just want to get away from me.
You see, these are two different conversations- sharing a person’s testimony and sharing the Gospel. They are related, and one can lead to the other, but they are definitely not the same. Sharing the Gospel isn’t just telling people that Jesus is your Savior and how you got to that point. It’s about bringing a person to their own saving knowledge of Christ. They are two very different things to a person who doesn’t know Him. And if you only share your testimony, a person can walk away feeling just as lost as before you had the conversation.
In Acts 8, we read about Philip, who, being led by the Holy Spirit, sought out an Ethiopian eunuch on the side of the road. I believe that God is trying to teach me through this passage how I can share the Gospel and I would like to point out some things that really stuck out to me.
Acts 8:29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go and join that chariot.”
The Holy Spirit orchestrated this entire meeting. And Philip was in a position to hear and listen to the Holy Spirit. This reminds me to make sure I am spending time with the Lord alone daily so I can recognize His still, small voice. Also, I need to be prepared to be led away from my comfort zone, if necessary, to do God’s will. In the verses prior to this, we see that Philip was told to rise and go to the desert and at the time, he wasn’t told why. That would not be easy for me!
Acts 8:30 When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the
prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”
My first response would NOT be to seek the eunuch’s understanding. It would be to spew out all the things I know about what he is reading and try to persuade him why Christ is the real deal. This not only shuts a person down from sharing their thoughts, it also makes them feel more distant from God. When you are not a follower of Christ, you are an enemy of Christ. Hearing about what Christ does in other people’s lives sometimes makes a person feel less worthy and even more detached from the idea that God could do the same in their life.
Acts 8:35 So Philip proceeded to tell him the good news
about Jesus, beginning from that Scripture.
The words that jump off the page for me here are “beginning with that Scripture.” The eunuch only had an excerpt from the prophet Isaiah. Philip literally and figuratively, met the eunuch where he was in his walk. Jesus, as kind and gentle as He is, meets people where THEY are, not where HE is. You see that in many examples through the Bible.
I was able to test out my newfound evangelism skills on my son’s friend, a politely helpless 12-year-old, who was a captive audience while at my house for a sleepover. Knowing his dad is an atheist, I simply asked what he thought about that. I never shared my views (he knows them well because he has been coming to my house for years) but I was able to understand a lot more about him than I did before. Through the conversation, I found out that he goes to youth group with his aunt, but he, too, believes himself to be an atheist. Even though I wasn’t able to share the gospel at that point, this boy left an imprint on my heart now that beckons me to pray for him and his family’s salvation.
God is teaching me to stop talking and start listening. I am to ask questions to ignite a conversation about Christ. God is also teaching me that I don’t need to wait for the high sign or a warm, fuzzy feeling before I can start a conversation about inviting a person to Christ. He told me to share the Good News in His Word and that’s good enough for me! In Mark 16:15, Jesus is speaking to His disciples,
“And He said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Lastly, it’s okay if I do it wrong. My job is to be obedient. God will do the rest!