Cathy Madavan encourages us all to find winsome ways to share the good news with those around us
I distinctly remember becoming a Christian at university in the early 1990s. It was all so exciting! I was forgiven, loved, welcomed into a new family and given a new purpose in life. Frankly, my excitement bubbled over everywhere – in my part-time work where I told anyone who stood still about Jesus, and in the pub where I wrote: “Smile! Jesus loves you!” on the chalkboard. I simply could not imagine that anyone would not want to know the good news. Over 30 years have passed since then, and I hope I am just as committed to sharing my faith (although my methods may have become slightly less confrontational). Here are some reasons why, which I hope will encourage you to share your faith too.
1 Hope is a gift
Perhaps in our cynical, consumerist and competitive world, it is easy to forget that Jesus still changes lives every day. We are so often told that people are not interested in faith, but transformation is possible when people discover they are loved unconditionally and forgiven totally. Despite what the world tells us, we cannot do enough, earn enough or be enough to gain the peace offered to us freely by Jesus. But how will people know this extraordinary gift of hope exists, unless somebody shares it with them? How wonderful that we can be gift-givers!
2 We serve in Jesus’ name
Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to visit Uganda, where I spent time serving basic meals to children who needed a charity to provide their basic nutrition. It struck me again that mission (be that in our neighbourhood or across the globe) always demonstrates the love of God to those who need it. The practical is innately spiritual; the truth is embodied in love. We bless one another because we have been created to give and receive the most divine of all elements – love.
3 People matter
While passion and enthusiasm are to be commended, it is good to be reminded that we are always dealing with people and not conversion projects. We can’t force our friends, children, spouse or neighbour to accept or receive what we believe any more than we can force them to eat healthy leafy vegetables. It might be the best thing for them, but God is a God of invitation and not coercion, so we can only ever offer an opportunity to discover more.
Jesus still changes lives every day
4 We share what we have
Maybe you don’t have a PhD in theology. Perhaps you don’t have formal training as an evangelist. It might be that you don’t have the most eloquent speaking gift in the country. You are quite definitely not alone! I am deeply encouraged that folks I read about in the Bible (including Moses and Paul – surely two of the most significant communicators in history) felt under-qualified or unimpressive in some way or another. We are asked to share what we have, not what we do not have, and our story, our understanding, our experience and our relationship with God are unique to us – and always worth sharing.
5 Prayer makes a difference
We are currently preparing to run an Alpha course at church and have been reminded again that prayer is the backbone of sharing faith with others. After all, it is not about how good our meals are, how convincing our arguments are or how welcoming we are that changes lives. Even if we serve the world’s best lemon meringue pie, it is only the Holy Spirit at work that makes the difference. Yes, we need to engage our brain to know how to explain our faith, yes, we need a heart of compassion for others, and yes, we need hands willing to serve generously – but without prayer and God’s power we will always fall short. The one thing we can all do today is pray for those in our lives who need to experience the love of our heavenly Father. Prayer changes things…and prayer changes us in the process too. So, this is a great time to raise the temperature of prayer, both as individuals and churches – for the sake of others and the world God cares so much about.