The Good News for Our Family and Friends by Lew Meyer.
The meaning of the word “gospel” is simply good news. Everyone should like good news. But today people are frequently apathetic towards it or downright repulsed by it. Even in many Christians there are negative feelings towards the word because it brings that guilty feeling that tells them “I have not been evangelising enough”.
There are many evangelism courses, and most of them have good stuff in them. But have you considered that the first Christian believers we read about in the New Testament didn’t seem to need seminars on how to share the good news? Yet the message spread throughout most of the Roman world in a few decades. What were their simple secrets? Here are some suggestions.
Firstly, their faith was simple. There were people around who had seen the resurrected Jesus personally so the facts could not be easily refuted. They believed, had turned from false gods (repented) and trusted Jesus. And they had been baptised (which was, and still is, the public signing-up procedure for new followers of Jesus). Their faith was a simple friendship with Jesus.
Secondly, their lives were dramatically changed. They had the Holy Spirit within them and were living in His power. Their lives were not perfect, but they were authentic. One of the greatest hindrances to winning our families for Christ is that they see what we are really like. We can put on a great show of piety at church. We can sing in glorious, euphoric joy with our eyes closed and our hands raised towards heaven. But our wives and children see what we are really like. Our friends and workmates also know the real us.
Are we living and walking in the life-transforming power of the Spirit of Jesus? Is our moment-by-moment friendship with Jesus so real it changes us and is making us like Him? Are we taking our rightful place as leaders by serving our wives and children so they feel safe and attracted to Jesus in us? Nothing inhibits our family and friends coming to Jesus so much as when we preach it but do not live it.
Authentic Christianity, with Jesus truly enthroned as Lord of all we are, is the most powerful evidence for Christianity. The Lord tells us through Peter how to get authentic. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
This is the winning combination:
1) Jesus in charge;
2) equipped to answer questions about faith; and
3) a gentle, respectful approach.
Thirdly, their witness was not forced. It was natural. They didn’t have to know the best seven techniques for sharing the gospel. It was their story. In every culture, people always tell and listen to stories. It was the story about what Jesus had done for them and was doing in them, and it was backed up by their lives. No one can refute this kind of story.
There are times to be straight and hard-hitting in sharing the gospel, but with family and friends who know us well, the humble approach is best. Kiwis do not like hard-sell. If we feel pressured in a shop, we will not usually go back. People may apparently make decisions, sometimes to get the preacher off their back, but they don’t come to know Jesus personally, and that’s what makes the difference.
Ripe fruit is not hard to pick. If the Holy Spirit is at work through us, winning people to Jesus can be natural. We need to be faithful and consistent in our witness. Walking in humility, not pride, will produce fruitfulness.
In the end, sharing the good news is a cooperative venture with us and the Holy Spirit. It is encouraging to know that He has used some pretty shaky but well-intentioned witnessing attempts to win some of the greatest believers in history. Keep praying. Let the gospel be a natural part of your life and conversation, and don’t give up.
Lew Meyer is an evangelist and the ministry co-ordinator of OAC Ministries Auckland. He is also an elder/evangelist at New Lynn Bible Chapel. Lew is passionate about preaching the gospel, teaching the Bible and reaching out to those who do not know Jesus.