Living Gospel-first Among Our Neighbors

by Sep 11, 2020Personal Evangelism

Does the value of our time and activities outweigh the value of living out the gospel among the people and neighbors in our lives? How do we keep this from happening?

First, we have to remember that people want to feel valued. And that value is hard to come by in this world. In the culture today, we have so many influences and forces pulling against us.  It’s easy to feel dissatisfied and like we are falling short.  What we see on social media leads us to believe we must have the perfect figure, an expensive house, a high-powered job, children who achieve a 4.0 in school.  We constantly feel pressure to perform.

What we can help friends and neighbors to see is that we have value because we are made in God’s image.  Genesis 1:27 tell us, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  So, when we believe in God, we realize we have value because we are created in His image.  We need to encourage others (and ourselves) to let that sink in for a moment. God is perfect and holy, yet He made us.  Why?  To have fellowship with Him, to enjoy Him forever,  and also to invest in people around us.

People all around us are hurting and need a relationship with God that can only be found through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  But, how do we share about God if we’re not trained ministers or Bible experts?

It’s not as hard as you may think. For example, a friend of mine started a simple Bible study in her neighborhood. It’s just looking at and discussing passages in the Bible. But every year new neighbors join in, and they have found a place of acceptance and a place to learn about the love of Jesus. We can also take a meal to a neighbor having a difficult time or mow the lawn for a senior citizen.  On a plane, we can show kindness to a stressed traveler or help a struggling mom with a toddler in the grocery store.  We can volunteer at the local food pantry or a home for wayward children.

Every day we come in contact with people who are longing to know the peace and joy we have in Christ.  What does it cost us to take a little extra time out of our day to show kindness?  Or, maybe God is leading us to dedicate more time, like starting an exercise program or book club with neighbors.  Let’s pray for God to show us ways to build relationships, so we have the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ – and create opportunities to lead friends and neighbors to Him.

I John 4:11-12 tells us, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  So, we can share about the grace of God by caring for those around us through practical, daily activities and expressing how God is working in our own lives.

God also tells us in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with his love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”  God wants us to experience abundant lives and see ourselves as He sees us, as precious children He delights in.  We have the privilege of sharing this gift with others who want to feel loved and valued.  We just have to decide if the cost of our time or resources is worth the eternal benefit of seeing others experience God’s unconditional love.

“What if I don’t know how to answer an objection about my faith in Jesus?”

This is a top fear people face when seeking to introduce a friend or loved one to Jesus. Sadly, it will stop many Christ followers in their tracks while sharing their faith this year. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

First, we should get one thing settled – if you are actively sharing your faith, you will be stumped by an objection about the Bible, Jesus, or Christian beliefs eventually. Unless, of course, you have an immediate answer to every potential question someone may ask about our infinite, all-knowing God. If that’s the case, I need to be reading your blog. However, if you’re more like the rest of us, the question really isn’t “what if I get stumped?”; instead, the question is “when I get stumped, how should I respond?”

Here are three things to do and one very important thing to remember when you run into an objection that shortens your breath, quickens your pulse, and makes you want to exit stage left.

Ask a clarifying question

Many Christians falsely believe that when an objection is raised, the clock starts ticking, and they have a very short window of time to answer the objection. If that’s how you feel, I want you to read this next sentence carefully. When someone makes an objection, you are not on the hook to answer it; they are on the hook to explain more. You can invite them to do so with a clarifying question like, “What do you mean by that?” I think an example will help.

Joanne: “Tina, I appreciate your beliefs, but I really don’t see any good reason to believe in God.”

Tina: “Thank you for being honest. However, may I ask what you mean when you say ‘God’?”

Joanne: “Well, I just don’t think there’s an old bearded guy up there watching our every move.”

Tina: “I see, and actually, I don’t believe in an old bearded guy either – can I share a little about who God is according to the Bible?”

Look back at what Tina did (politely). She asked a what do you mean question that invited Joanne to explain more. That did two very important things: It kept the conversation moving toward the gospel, and it took all the pressure off Tina to cobble together a defense of God’s existence on the spot.

Acknowledge the objection and advance the conversation

Consider this brief exchange:

Jonathan: “I just don’t think there is any evidence that Christianity is true.”

Craig: “I definitely want to hear your thoughts about that, but can I briefly share what I believe about Jesus?”

In this short conversation, Craig isn’t interested in proving Jonathan wrong, and he isn’t avoiding the objection. In fact, he makes it clear that he wants to hear Jonathan’s thoughts. All he’s seeing permission to push the objection to the end so he can share about his faith in Christ. This can be very effective, because in some cases, someone like Jonathan has been bringing up this objection for years and has heard 1,000 reasons why Christianity makes sense (and continues to ignore them), but what he’s never heard is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“But,” you may be thinking, “what happens when they bring up the objection again and I don’t know how to respond?” Well, that leads us right into the next suggestion.

Use Your 5-word Ace Card: “Let me think about that”

If you ever feel pinned down by an objection, these five words will get you off the hook 100% of the time: “let me think about that.” Here are four reasons this phrase is so powerful: 

  1. It lets the other person know you appreciate their objection and want the time it deserves to think about it
  2. It removes all pressure to provide an immediate answer
  3. It allows you the opportunity to set up a future time to talk
  4. It gives you the chance to meet with a pastor, mentor, etc. about the topic at hand so you can come prepared to the future discussion

As you can see, this simple phrase does a lot of work for you. It is quite literally your ace card in any conversation that goes sideways.

One critical thing to remember

Now that you know some helpful tactics to address objections while sharing your faith, there is one last thing to remember – and it’s vitally important.

Your job is to glorify God, not win arguments.

Too often people come to blogs like this with the goal to “not look foolish” or “to get the best of someone.” If your honest intention is to win arguments instead of souls, then your intention has more to do with glorifying your intellect than glorifying God. Sit with that for a moment before you depart to put these tactics into action. Ask God to make these a part of your efforts to glorify Him as He opens opportunities for you to share the wondrous message of the cross.