We had a very excited happening in my family this week. My first nephew was born, healthy and strong. I was full of such joy, I couldn’t wait to share the news and the cutest pictures ever. However, I had to wait, it wasn’t my news to tell. I had to give my sister and her husband a chance to share the news with who they wanted and how they wanted. It wasn’t my news to tell, even though I was bursting with joy. Jesus IS our news to tell. If you are a follower of Jesus, go ahead, burst with joy and share about Him. That’s how it is suppose to work. We can’t be quiet about God stepping into our world as Jesus. We can’t be quiet about what God has done and is doing in our world. If you’re anything like me though, somehow that joy of Jesus seems to wear thin. Rather that talking about Jesus because were bursting with joy, many of us Jesus followers could be accused of being silent about Jesus because were crumbling with fear or have lots the joy of knowing Jesus. I know it’s crazy, but it seems way too easy to be silent about the good news. I’m guilty of it. This got me thinking…
What if the shepherds were silent? What if they didn’t share their joy at Jesus birth?
An evangelist is someone who shows and tells others how great God is. All followers of Jesus are meant to be evangelists. The shepherds were bursting with joy and spread the word about Jesus and who He was everywhere they went. Really there are many evangelists in the Christmas story – Elizabeth, Zechariah, Angels, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna and Magi. I’m bias. The shepherds are my favourite. They were ordinary guys, about their usual routine and work. They were not the high and mighty, not the prim and proper. They let God come into their ordinary day and interrupt it. They let a sign from God change their routine, change their plans. Yup, God’s just as likely to do something in the middle of your ordinary day at work as He is in a church service. Don’t forget it.
And these shepherds, ordinary, everyday shepherds, become evangelists. They meet baby Jesus and then could not be quiet about it. We read “they spread the word about this child…” And “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen…”
Worship is showing and telling God how great He is. Evangelism is showing and telling others how great God is.
These folks in the Christmas story seem to be doing both. Their hearts were so bursting in worship of God they couldn’t help but overflow with such joy that other people noticed. The shepherds declared this young baby was (and is) the Saviour of the world! The one who will save us from our sins and restore us to God.
What if they had been silent? What if the angels didn’t sing? What if Zechariah and Elizabeth had stayed silent? What if Mary hadn’t sung her song? What if Simeon didn’t dance? What if the shepherds didn’t tell? What if they hid what they saw? What if they hid their joy?
What if the shepherds were silent?
I wonder if you and I would have even heard about Jesus, had they been silent?
You know what? I’m often silent. I know God has done and is doing incredible things in the world and my life. But, I’m often silent. How about you? Have you gone silent?
I fear that many of us that are followers of Jesus have gone silent. I get it, it’s not popular to talk about Jesus or your faith in the world today. I get it, we are not even sure how to talk about it. I get it, you and I both know Christian “talk” and evangelism has sometimes been very brazen and very unhelpful. However, we’ve got to find a way to get over those hurdles and show and tell the Good News. This news is TOO GOOD!
Sharing the good news about Jesus is one area where I’m trying getting better and I’m trying to equip others to get better at it too. I’m challenging leaders to get better at this themselves and equip others around them to get better. We need to tell the good news.
Here’s some advice on telling the good news today:
1. Be good news before you tell the good news. You have got to know people and care for them before you can point them to Jesus. They are not going to believe Jesus is good news if you have not shown them God’s good news through your actions, care and friendship. Your life towards them should encompass good news. The deeds almost always come before the words.
2. Drop the Christian platitudes. They are not helpful, they make you seem fake. They make it seem like you don’t live in the real world. It’s much more effective to say something like “I’ve wrestled with that too”, “That’s terrible” or “I’ve questioned God on that one!” than to pretend you’ve got it all figured out. Plus, people will want to talk to you more.
3. Be in your neighbourhoods and share. Wherever you work, study, live and play don’t be quiet about the “G” word, “God”. Naturally share what you are praying about, where you know you need God’s help, where your dependent on your Christian community, when you’ll pray for someone (then do it!), what God seems to be doing in your life… Let God overflow in your speech and life.
4. Live with questions – Invite others to share their opinion and thoughts and respect their perspective especially when it’s different than yours. Feel free to share your perspective too, thoughtfully. Don’t expect things to be resolved in one conversation, this is on on-going conversation, with you, with others, with what God is doing in someone’s life. Conversations that bring up more questions than answers are good. Be okay with leaving a conversation (or even a talk/sermon) with unanswered questions.
5. Get creative in telling - We need much more creativity in how we tell the Gospel. There is not only one way to tell the Gospel (e.g. 4 spiritual laws, Romans Road…) In fact I’m very concerned today that we seem to think the ONLY way to tell the Gospel is to convince people how sinful and bad they are. I’m not sure that’s as helpful as we think (before you cast me off, hear me out.) People can see the brokenness and sin in the world. It can be harder to see sin in ourselves. There really are lots of good people that are not Christians - good people, like the shepherds, like the Magi, like Mary and Joseph, that absolutely need Jesus too. But they may need a different starting place in coming to Jesus than starting by convincing them of their sin. Yes, it is absolutely true that Jesus is our redeemer from sin and we need Him to do this for us. Yes, we do need to come to an understanding of how only Jesus can deal with the sin that separates us from God and restore us to a relationship with Holy God. However the Bible also describes the Gospel, what Jesus has done for us in many different ways – adoption, sacrifice, reconciliation, victory, restoration, healing…. Jesus told Nicodemus to be born again, He told the rich young ruler to give everything to the poor, He invited the woman at the well to ask for living water, He invited Himself over to Zacchaeus house, He said to the disciples “follow me”, He broken bread and drank with the disciples. Let’s use the whole gamut of creativity and explanations we have to explain what God has done for us, as we invite others to become Jesus followers.
6. Practice – seriously. Start practicing to share the Gospel. Listen to how others share it, how a friend or Pastor talks about the Good News. Try explaining what God has done for you in your own words.
7. Pray – Pray for God opportunities a. Pray – God brings Himself up in conversations with a friend, a co-worker, a fellow parent, a gym buddy, a family member… b. Offer to others – What can I be praying for you? I have found people of all different backgrounds, including those who declare themselves to be atheists, are open to this question. Make sure you follow it up and actually pray for them.
Friends, this is a call to go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Share the good news where you live, work, study and play.
Check out some more advice in this previous post: Evangelism WITH this generation
By the way – I’m currently visiting my sister, her husband, and their new baby boy in Ontario and will keep telling you how wonderful my young nephew is.