One thing I wish I’d known before I started to share my faith, is that we need to be compassionate for the lost, not simply intellectual believers trying to win arguments as a way to push people into accepting Jesus. Particularly in my early years as a Christian, I wish I’d known this – many times I should have been “A messenger of the good news rather than trying to be a persuader to my cause and belief.”
You see, my early Christian walk started in a Bible believing church and I believed the right things according to historical Christianity and the Bible, yet I did not understand how to walk with Jesus under the power of the Holy Spirit and view the world and others through this spiritual lens. To see others as Jesus sees them.
I was a religious believer but not totally surrendered to Jesus when I began telling others about God. Sometimes this produced arguments with others and a sense of righteous pride and trust in one’s methods of persuading people or “selling” the gospel to others.
I remember while I was a young, married man, I fully surrendered to Jesus and his call, and I moved from a religion to a relationship with Jesus! What joy and a freedom came as I watched and learned from others who modelled compassion for lost people, wanting them to know the Saviour and to come to repentance and eternal life.
I am reminded of the story in scripture of Apollos. It says in Acts 18:25-26 “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
We don’t know all that transpired here, but Aquilla and Priscilla had to pull Apollos aside and help him understand how he was approaching and teaching the gospel. Maybe he was still lost prior to this or did not understand the Holy Spirit’s role in proclaiming the gospel. It’s true that someone may know the Bible but still be lost.
Even after I fully surrendered to Christ, my past as a businessman and a salesman sometimes got in the way in my sharing Jesus. It’s our nature to rely on self and our own methods rather than giving in and giving complete control to the Lord and listening to his voice. I am so grateful for Godly men who helped me along the way. What a difference and a freedom I had after fully surrendering to God and realizing that I convert no one. I am just to be obedient to share the good news of Jesus and let the Spirit work on a person’s heart.
As I walk with the Lord, I try to listen to God’s Spirit and ask more questions, listen more to people rather than dive into a particular method of sharing the gospel and going for the close. It is amazing how receptive people are to talk about spiritual things and how willing to be prayed over. Many of us who have a background in sales, are entrepreneurs or are a type A personality, can come on too strong with others in sharing our faith until we realise that the call of the evangelists and all believers is to simply be a witness. Evangelists offer an invitation for others to respond to Jesus, and it is simply that, an invitation from Jesus and a move of the Spirit that generates a response, rather than our clever gift with words.
Early in my faith, I fear I turned many off by asking rhetorical, argumentative, questions which related to proving creation or debating how one can’t possibly be an atheist or any line of questioning that leads to debate as opposed to a Spirit-filled heart and a compassion for the person and then leaning in to listen to them. When I put the other person first, I find God will give many common-ground opportunities to share Christ or even my testimony. Jesus calls us to be witnesses for him. He did not call us to be judges, lawyers, or prosecuting attorneys in conveying his message. He simply calls us to witness to others about our experience with him. Then we can introduce them to the only one who can bring meaning, purpose and ultimately give them life eternal. I am passionate about that and now see people as God sees them, made in his image and needing to be reconciled to him, fully experiencing the love of Christ.
I appreciate men and women of God who help each other in our shared passion for reaching lost people, but also demonstrate the compassion for them that Jesus modelled. Even as I speak to large audiences, I am reminded to keep the message centred on the good news of the saving grace of Jesus and an invitation to put one’s faith in Christ alone, as opposed to getting into a message on things that will only confuse lost people. We are the good news people! Speak truth from God’s word but keep bringing it back to the only hope for all people. A relationship with Jesus.
I would encourage you be part of an Advance Group. It will sharpen your skills but also help you stay accountable to your calling.
Written by Alan Greene.
Alan serves on the council of GNE (Global Network of Evangelists) a network of evangelists started by the Luis Palau Association. Alan also serves as Associate Director of Collaborative Events for GNE and helps with identifying, training, equipping and mobilizing evangelists to reach the next generation. He is also the Co-Founder of LifeLight Communications, a proclamation evangelistic ministry based in Sioux Falls SD. Alan has been married to his high school sweetheart Vicki for over 45 years; they have three daughters and five grandchildren.