Friday, September 16, 2011

What’s the Hurry?

I believe that most born-again believers who seek God’s will have a sincere desire to lead people to the Lord. Through His Word, we have life-saving information that can change the destiny of souls from eternal punishment in hell to eternal and abundant life with Christ. So why wouldn’t we want to tell people? If we had practical, easy-to-follow information about how to cure a deadly disease like cancer, wouldn’t we be shouting it from the rooftops? (Luke 12: 2-3)

Yet, when it comes to witnessing, many believers feel inadequately prepared to share the Gospel, or too shy to share their faith with others, or too afraid that others will reject, mock or even persecute them for their “intolerant” or “narrow” Christian views. There are, of course, good counterpoints to all these arguments. We don’t need a seminary education to share the Gospel – the woman at the well, once realizing who Jesus was, rushed out and told everyone (even those who ostracized her) that she had found the Messiah, and she led many to Him (John 4:4-42).

For those who feel they are too shy to verbally witness to someone, God can use them anyway because He looks not for ability, but availability. The Holy Spirit will give them the words to say (Luke 2:11-12). Moses was a shy, stammering, reclusive desert dweller (Exodus 4: 10-12), yet God chose him to speak up to Pharaoh to set God’s people free from captivity (Exodus 3-4). And thanks to modern methods of communication, even the painfully shy or actually mute are without excuse – most people in the developed world can witness through the forum of the Internet, and anyone can enclose a tract with a bill payment, or even leave one with a tip in a restaurant or in a public place where it can be easily found.

As we get further into the End Times, Christians everywhere can expect persecution (Matthew 24: 9-10). In America we are still blessed to be able to assemble freely for worship and to have easy access to Bibles and Christian literature, while our brothers and sisters in other countries face imprisonment, torture, and even death for their faith in Christ. How often do American believers pass up opportunities to witness because we’re afraid our liberal friends will avoid us or think we’re politically incorrect?

Yet Jesus said that if we are ashamed of the Gospel, He will be ashamed of us before God the Father and His angels (Luke 2:8-10; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). Lost people may think we are narrow-minded to say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that there is no other way to Heaven (John 14:6), but we know that many will die and go to hell while trying to enter Heaven by the broad gate (Matthew 7: 13-14).

So let’s assume that we are born-again believers, seeking God’s will, with the ability to share with others how Christ has changed our life and maybe even with a few Bible verses to point someone to salvation. Let’s assume that we choose to obey God rather than to fear the criticism of men. Now we’re all set to witness, but do we? At that point a dreaded enemy drags down all our good intentions – procrastination.

We’re around our family a lot, so we’ll just wait for a better time to share the Gospel, when our spouse isn’t consumed with financial worries and our children aren’t pressured over final exams. We see our coworkers every day, but they’re not going to be open to hearing our testimony when we all have to work overtime to meet our deadline. We could invite our neighbors to church and tell them about Jesus on the way over, but they’d probably make us feel guilty for not mowing our lawn on Sunday like they do. And as for strangers God places in our path each day, we’d like to witness to them, but we have to hurry to get home, or to work, or to church, or wherever.

So we put off witnessing, which is why the laborers are few even though the fields have a bountiful harvest ready to be gathered in (Matthew 9:37; Luke 10:2). We’re not promised tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1), but we act like we have all the time in the world. We invest (or foolishly spend) our time in what’s important to us in this life (Luke 12:16-21), not realizing that our life is but a vapor (James 4:14). Before we know what hit us we’ll be face to face with Jesus, without excuse for why we didn’t share the Gospel. Or, we will be rewarded eternally for sharing the Good News of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross to pay our sin debt, and of His resurrection that all who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 4:35-36).

David Jeremiah retold an illustration first offered by New Testament scholar William Barclay, about Satan discussing with three of his demons their plans for tempting and ruining man. To paraphrase slightly, the first demon said, “I’ll tell them there is no God.” But Satan replied, “That won’t fool anyone – they know there is a God. The second demon said, “I’ll tell them there is no hell.” Satan said, “That won’t work, because men know deep in their hearts that they are sinners and deserve to be punished in hell.”

The third demon hit the nail on the head. “I’ll tell them there is no hurry.” Satan smiled knowingly and replied, “You will ruin men by the thousands. The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time.”

So let’s not put it off a moment longer – let’s go share the Gospel today!

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett


Donald Fishgrab said...

When a person loves something, they don't have to be told to talk about it, even when others aren't interested. Football always comes up in conversations with devoted football fans, baseball with devoted baseball fans, and his girlfriend with a boy who is intensely in love with a girl. The main reason Christians find it hard to witness is that their love for the Lord is not as intense. Most Christians have no problem witnessing first saved, but that fades as they focus more on themselves.

I have found as a pastor, the more people realize how much God loves them the more naturally they witness for him. Consequently, I spend less time emphasizing the need for them to witness and more helping them to understand God's love.

Laurie Collett said...

Excellent point! Thanks as always for your insights and for sharing your experience. God's agape, self-sacrificing love for us is so different and so much more intense than the philia or brotherly affection we naturally feel toward people who like us and share our interests and beliefs. So it is hard to understand the depths of His amazing, infinite love, and easy to lose sight of it and get distracted by the unimportant. His love should motivate all we do, including witnessing. Thanks for the reminder to focus on how much He loves us.

Anonymous said...

I love the Gospel message ~ and couldn't love it until I fully understood it (which has only been recently). Once I really understood the "good news" of salvation by GRACE not by my works ~ I was hungry to share this "gold" with the world. I think that is why many don't share, because Grace hasn't been made real in their lives there isn't anything that exciting to share because they are living under condemnation, themselves....just a thought I have on this subject based on my own personal journey.....!!! Loved this post!! :>)

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Alice Lynn! That's so true that if you're never quite sure that you've done "enough" to get to Heaven, you can never have the complete joy and peace God intended. That is the problem with cults that demand Jesus plus something, and even many believers don't have full assurance of their salvation based exclusively on what Jesus did. Praise God that on the cross He cried "It is finished!" because there is nothing we can add.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friend ~ I must share about something very exciting, regarding the Gospel message. I felt the Lord was leading me to use my blog as a tract. I realize most people will only see my blog one time, and I felt the Lord was wanting me to take any "self-promotion" out of my blog and just leave "someone else's" writing, one simple message, for those who visit. I began to follow every blog that crossed my path ~ I wouldn't leave a message, I would just follow. I didn't know if anything would happen, but within one week, I went from 20 followers to 320....and 95% are unbelievers. I have realized many of these "followers" may never look at my blog again, but something is going on here.....people are hungry for the Gospel....not religion, but liberating TRUTH! So, I have realized my gift is not in writing (such as your gift), my gift is just to use the writings of others to share the gospel message to non-believers. I have followed countless Christian blogs with no response, so I have realized that was not my calling!!! I JUST LOVE THE REALITY OF THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE ~ this is so AWESOME!!!

Laurie Collett said...

Alice Lynn, that is awesome indeed! Praise God that you have allowed Him to use you in this unique and effective way! As the End Times appear to be drawing near, I believe God has given believers even greater opportunities for missions through the power of the Internet. Like any powerful tool, the Internet has been misused for evil, but it has tremendous potential to enhance missions by quickly and inexpensively sowing seeds even in the far corners of the globe. Daniel 12:4 says that in the time of the end, knowledge shall be increased, and that “many shall run to and fro,” which, I have read, in the Hebrew has connotations of “searching” in the same way one would do a computer search today.

Petra said...

Thanks for linking up with Wednesday's WOW (world of work). Some are good at sweeping streets and others good at mending a broken bone, but all of us can share the hope we have in Christ. No? This is one job we are all called to do, and to do well. It's that step of obedience that we are so reluctant to take. And yet, what have we to fear? Is not our Lord the Maker, Keeper, and Conductor of our mouths and tongues? (These questions are directed towards 'me' first.) Blessings!

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Petra! You're very welcome, and thanks for following Saved by Grace and for your comment. Yes, Christ saved us to glorify Him in all we do, and He commanded us to tell others about Him. May we yield to the Holy Spirit moment by moment so we don't miss any of the opportunities He provides each day. May God bless you and your ministry.

Brad said...

Wow, Laurie. Excellent stuff here. Very convicting and uplifting.

Christ's blessings,


Laurie Collett said...

Welcome, Brad, and thanks so much for your very kind comment! May God bless you and your ministry.