One thing I wish I knew when I started sharing my faith was that it’s about the overflow.
I see the most powerful encounters with Jesus happen in ‘overflow’ moments. These aren’t planned events, or coming about through structures and strategies, but are rooted in an overflowing passion and love for Jesus from believers who simply can’t hold back!
I live in the world of evangelism. My work with the Luis Palau Association combines mission with the local church, to see the transformation of an area through the outworking presence of God, with the mobilisation of God’s people in worship and service to the Kingdom. I know there are so many techniques, strategies and resources for evangelism, and many of them are brilliant and have their place. But what about in real life? What about in the everyday? Not just when you are ‘on mission’ or ‘doing an outreach’.
The best faith sharing I have ever seen over the last 20 years of ministry, and often the one with the most lasting and radical fruit, have been when it is an organic, genuine, relational interaction. An interaction with space for the Holy Spirit to move as the person hearing the gospel becomes open to the good news, and there is a heart to heart, deep connection, that is undeniable no matter the persons circumstances. They fall in love with Jesus in an instant and nothing else matters. This is why some of the best evangelists in the world are brand new believers and children, because they are still speaking from passion and overflow and not simply going through the motions.
I believe that the best evangelism has to come from the overflow, from the spontaneous response. We see this in both Acts 10 and John 12, where it’s not something that’s planned or orchestrated.
So how did the disciples share and build faith in the early church? They witnessed to those around them, not just in closed meetings and gatherings, not for 90 mins on a Sunday morning, but in the marketplace, in places of influence. They would build relationships and connections and then share about the radical transformation they had experienced though relationship with Jesus.
Of course, we can create opportunities and the right environment for people to be receptive and ‘open’. But for true transformation of the heart, a genuine repentance and turning around of people’s lives, we have to look to the work of the Holy Spirit. God pours out His power through the Holy Spirit, working through YOU. It is THE greatest miracle! I really wish I knew this 20 years ago!
In Acts 10, Peter is talking to the gentiles at the house of Cornelius. In verse 37 Peter explains and reminds them about what Jesus did, and then we see from v44 what happened next. We see that the Holy Spirit came on ALL who heard the message and even the people that travelled with Peter, the believers, those already in the ‘club’ were astonished. It surprised them that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out and particularly that it was poured out on those ‘not yet in the club’, those non-believers.
Let’s break this down. A group of people gathered, and there must have been a reason. Maybe they’d heard some rumours and wanted to check it out for themselves, maybe they had some issue they wanted a solution for, perhaps they’d been invited? Whatever the reason, they would have likely come with a longing for answers, possibly even to simply find out ‘why are these people different, why do they act the way they do?’.
Then, once they had gathered, Peter spoke a message, he shared Jesus, sharing the good news with them. Then it says in v44 that the Spirit fell on all who heard – ‘heard’ meaning not just those who ‘listened’ but all of those that heard and accepted what they heard – believers and non-believers.
So how do we share our faith in this organic way that prompts a powerful response in all people?
Well, I believe it is when we as Christians live in a constant overflow of love for Jesus and His presence. This leads us to pour out worship, praise and prayer not just in our private devotion but in our everyday lives, our conversations, church gatherings, worship nights, coffee trips etc…
So, what has stopped us doing this? I wonder if it is because we need to have our hearts softened again. Many of us need to remove the sterile, religious and impure things in our lives and replace them with holiness, honour, and praise instead of rituals and half-hearted portions of what we are willing to give. We need to be witnesses that share of his glory, power and transformative work; because it’s the overflow, not the dry well of religion, that people are drawn to.
One of my favourite passages and one that highlights this really well is John 12 at Lazarus’s house, after he had been raised from the dead.
Mary, Jesus, the disciples and a bunch of other people, are sitting around the lounge, eating, catching up on the latest news and chatting – “remember when you were raised from the dead?!” etc…
Then a few moments later Mary comes towards Jesus. She’s overcome and can’t contain herself anymore. She kneels, (the guests are likely thinking ‘what is she doing?’) she takes out a bottle of expensive perfume, smashes the top and pours it out as tears run down her face.
This story is a vivid outpouring of emotion and a physical response of uncontainable worship and adoration. She could no longer control herself as her heart’s response was to worship and adore and pour out everything of value no matter the consequences. Mary was also brave, she would have known the potential response of the people, many of whom she knew well, but she did it anyway. There was no assessment or rationale or second thought, other than the need to worship and pour herself out for her Saviour.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be like that. I believe even a small group of people like that could see a whole nation turn to Jesus. If we pour out and remind people of their first love, we can see a move of God in response to our worship and our public display of affection and worship.
It reminds me of when I first looked into the eyes of Jesus, I am sure you can all remember that specific moment! Maybe we need to trigger that memory with Christians across the world again? Take them back to that moment of outpouring love and affection. When nothing else mattered. I know that personally I want to live in that space constantly.
So how do we share our faith with those around us in light of all this? Well, here are a few of my thoughts:
- Do whatever it takes to gather people around you. Meet a need, be someone who people are drawn to and make space for non-believers.
- Be a witness like Peter was, tell people about your transformation and the reasons why you so love Jesus.
- Be ready for the response. The Holy Spirit wants to work in everyone’s life and people are longing for witnesses that give them an answer to their longing.
- Be like Mary. Live in a place of overflow and worship because that is when people really hear and respond. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable or react to the hearts prompting – it’s probably the Holy Spirit nudging you.
- Allow God to soften your heart again, to take you back to that first time you looked into the eyes of Jesus and responded to his call. Then allow the overflow to be the trigger that can lead a whole room, neighbourhood, or town to respond.
1. When you last shared the gospel, was it from a place of overflow?
2. What is it that is stopping you from being someone who shares from an overflow of love and adoration of Jesus?
3. Have a listen to this song ‘Take me back’ by Maverick city music and reflect on its lyrics. See if Jesus wants to speak to you through them:
When it was simple.
When loving was easy,
When it was all simple
And trusting was easy
Give me a fresh start
Chain gone, freedom, light, life, for the first time
Written by Dave Plowman, UK & Europe Director of the Luis Palau Association.