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About this series
Share the Love
How to Talk to Anyone about God
You should, you ought to, you know the Bible tells you to do it - but the thought of actually sharing your faith with another person gives you sweaty palms and heart palpitations. "I'm just not gifted in evangelism," you decide. "It's not for me." But it is! In Share the Love, learn how even you can move from being a "secret agent" Christian to a "public" witness as you develop the heart, skills, and perspective to naturally share Christ as a part of your lifestyle and relationships.More from this series
You know, I’ve learned something, I’ve observed it all my life. When you really love someone, or if you really love something you just can’t wait to share it. Is that true? You know, you go to a great restaurant and you’re with some friends, you go, “Oh man! We were at this place the other night. You gotta go there!” Or, you know, you get a new tablet or you get some new shoes and people, “Where did you get?” “Oh, you have got to get. And they’re on sale.”
Advertisers know the greatest advertisement in all the world is word of mouth. It’s true. We always share what we love.
And that’s why, for me at least, sometimes it’s really hard to understand why I don’t share or why it’s hard to share the most important love relationship in my life. I mean, God saved me, forgave me, gave me a new life and yet I find myself in situations where it’s hard. It’s just hard to get over the hump to share with other people His infinite grace and love and offer of forgiveness.
Many years ago I had a, one of those experiences that, they stuck in your mind and you get, sort of, an “ah-ha” about maybe why you do certain things that you do.
Now I met a guy named Steve, he was an All-American swimmer. I was coaching by day and we were starting a little discipleship ministry on a campus by night. So I would go up and play basketball with guys like Steve and we’d do gospel of John studies and if I described Steve to you he was popular, he was a party animal, he was a number one athlete, he swore profusely, he was very in, he was very cool, he was very unreligious, and he was dating a beautiful girl who happened to be living right next door to me. I lived in a garage apartment and she lived next door.
And I knew she lived there and I knew they were girlfriend/boyfriend because that’s where he spent the weekends.
And so, you know, here’s a guy that’s just, like, far from God, really arrogant, I’m really insecure. I’m thinking, “I don’t know who I’m going to share Christ with but that’s the last guy on this campus that would ever be open to hear about Christ.”
Is there anybody like that in your life? I mean, who is that person you think, you know what? They sort of “got it,” they would never need God.
Well, he comes out of, it was like a Saturday morning one weekend, and he comes out of her little house like this and goes, “Man, my back is killing me.” Because, you know, we played ball together and, you know, we were friends. I never said anything to him.
Friends. I use, that’s sort of a very general usage of that word. We were acquaintances. And I said, “Well, what’s wrong?” He said, “Man, my back is killing me.” I said, “Why?” He said, “You know, sleeping on that couch.” I said, “Sleeping on the couch? Why?”
He said, “Oh, this amazing thing happened last weekend.” I said, “What’s that?” “My girlfriend, you know, her folks are kind of religious and, you know, when you go to visit you gotta do whatever they do so, you know, she lives out in the country in West Virginia and we end up in this tiny, little church and thirty-five or fifty people and some old gizzard gets up and opens the Bible and I’m rolling my eyes. And, you know, he starts talking about stuff. And I can’t explain it but he’s talking about sin, and lack of peace, and God’s forgiveness, and Jesus being God, and dying in our place, and it was like, whoa, this dude is reading my mail! And all of a sudden I realized I want and need.”
He goes, “When it got done I just walked right up to the front and I prayed to receive Christ and, man, my life’s different.” “Oh really?”
So the next three or four months I began to disciple Steve and we became friends and the very last blank, you know, I listed him and the part I didn’t list was the part I didn’t know. He was totally open to Christ.
I mean, this is the most un-seeker sensitive, un-cool presentation of the gospel that God could probably ever put him in front of but since the power is in the gospel and not in the presentation and Steve was open, he trusted Christ - changed his life.
And we got to be friends then. Real friends. And Steve, I remember, one day said, “Can I ask you something?” I said, “Well, sure.” “Um, let me get this right. You knew all about this Jesus and forgiveness and we played basketball and we did this stuff together. Chip, why didn’t you tell me?”
I mean, I don’t know if there’s ever a time where you felt like the spotlight was on you and you just, there is, like, no place to hide. There is no excuse. All I could say was, “Well, basically because I thought you were closed, I’m desperately insecure, and I was really intimidated.” How’s that for an answer?
And what I’ve learned is the reason I didn’t share the love of God with Steve is because I believed a lie. And I’m going to share with you seven specific lies that keep us, who love Jesus, who have been saved by Jesus, whose lives have been changed by Jesus; there are seven strongholds or lies that we believe.
And I’ve called them a stronghold because it’s a biblical phrase. But the father of lies is Satan. And what he wants to do is get very subtle lies ingrained into your thinking, into your mind where they’re just the glasses that you look at other people with.
And so over here, if you could imagine, there’s this unlimited lake of grace and over here you have this unlimited need of people and their struggles and you know what? There’s a conduit and the link of God’s grace, and love, and forgiveness is the conduit of regular people like us.
And so the enemy has developed different ways to get you and me to believe lies that keep us from taking that love and that grace and introducing these people to what God wants for them.
Seven strongholds we must demolish daily. And I put daily in there because they’re so ingrained you’ll have to, kind of, write these down and pound away and read them over and pray them through. You might say, well, where did I get that?
II Corinthians 10:4 and 5, the apostle Paul is speaking to the Corinthian church. And he says, “The weapons of our warfare, or the weapons that we fight with, are not of this world.” We’re in a spiritual battle for the souls of these people. “On the contrary, the weapons we have, have divine power to do,” what? “Demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretention that’s set up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
These lies, these strongholds are raised up against the knowledge of God. These presuppositions and we’re sincere but we look through a lens that keep us from loving people.
Stronghold number one we’ve already hit. It’s that people aren’t open. It’s a lie. We believe. Now it might not be a swimmer. It may not be an athlete. It might be someone with a Ph.D., it might be someone who drives a very nice car, it might be someone who seems very beautiful, it might be someone that you think has it all together, it might be someone who intimidates you, it might be someone who swears profusely, who makes fun of Christians.
It might be something but there’s, you think they’re not open. And because of that, since they’re not open, why talk to them, right? That was my theory.
Jesus said this, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more then comes the harvest? I tell you, ‘Open your eyes and look at the fields. They’re ripe or white for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages and now he harvests the crop for eternal life so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”
That’s in John chapter 4. Jesus has just shared Christ with a woman who’s had five husbands. She’s a Samaritan. So, I mean, they’re off theologically, they’re half-breeds, the Jews think they’re not open. Her moral past, she couldn’t be open.
Jesus shares Christ, she goes back into the village and says, “I met the Messiah.” The whole village is walking out, hundreds of people. The disciples come back, they did take-out, they got lunch and brought it into Jesus. And they’re looking and he goes, “Look. You guys don’t think these people would ever be open. They’re open.”
We did some research, recently. An organization, this is the most recent research on the attitudes of the unchurched. They had a very broad population of people and this was of people that have not been to any kind of religious service in the last six months.
Not to a church, a synagogue, or a mosque. We found that sixty-two percent of those surveyed said they believe in God or a higher, supreme being. So three out four people already say, “I believe in God.”
Of those, sixty-one percent believe that the God of the Bible is no different from the gods of other religions. So, “I believe in God. I have no idea who He is and I assume they’re all the same.” Well, I wonder why they assume that? Who ever told them differently?
Sixty-six percent of adults ages eighteen to twenty-nine agree that Jesus died and came back to life. The generation coming up. Two out of three people, like, in their twenties and late teens, “You believe Jesus died?” “Yeah.” “Came back to life?” So two out of three people are ready to talk about this.
The problem, however, is they trip over the Church. Two thirds or sixty-four percent of respondents think the Christian religion is relevant and a viable religion for today. It’s not that they think it’s antiquated, or it’s not a good message, or it doesn’t make sense.
The problem is seventy-two percent said they think the church is full of hypocrites. Is there ever a day when people are more open and all they’re looking for is Christians to live like Christians.
We don’t have to have it all together. Just live like Christians. And they want to hear. They’re open, most, are you ready for this? They’re most open to their friends.
Eight out of ten or seventy-eight percent surveyed said they would be willing to listen to someone who wanted to talk about their Christian beliefs. By the way, these are the people that are in your neighborhood and where you work.
Now, if you happen to be in that younger audience, eighteen to twenty-nine, it bumps up to eighty-nine or ninety percent of that age group is open to talk about your beliefs.
And yet down deep what do most of us think? “Oh, they’re not open. They just work at Google, or they work over here, or they do that and, you know, it’s this new generation.” It’s a lie. It’s a stronghold.
Finally, they summarize the findings. Eighty-nine percent of the unchurched people said they have a close friend who is a Christian. Think of that. See these are people they surveyed that you work with, that are in your neighborhood, that are on the soccer team. And they know you’re a Christian.
Some of you, their close friends, what they’re saying is, “We don’t even have to go out and find a brand new group of people to share the love of God with. We need to share the love of God with the people that God’s already put in our life.”
But we just need to start some of those spiritual conversations. Are you ready for this? The research, and Jesus, would say people are way more open and want to hear about His love than we are willing to tell them.
Is that crazy? It’s a stronghold.
Stronghold number two: Sharing Jesus’ love is reserved for spiritual superstars and people with outgoing personalities. You believe that one?
But when we hear stories of, sort of, like, oh wow, these over the top amazing, true stories what it does is we start, the enemy takes even good things that happen and it’s like, “Oh see? You gotta be a superstar. You gotta have great people skills, outgoing personality, have to be able to read people. You need to understand this, be able to answer all these questions.”
It’s not what the Bible says. The apostle Paul would say in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it, the gospel, is the power of God for salvation to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.”
See the faulty assumption… We believe, down deep in terms of our behavior, that the power is in the messenger. And since you’re not a very big, strong messenger well, you know, you’re not going to share, there won’t be any results. The Bible says just the opposite. The Bible says the power is in the message, not the messenger.
Stronghold number three is that witnessing is something I do versus something that I am. You know, some of our backgrounds and we’ve come from a background where you need to witness. You know? It’s like you need to pray, you need read the Bible, you need to witness. That’s something you do. So, get with the program.
The false premise here is that if I just live a good life, if I’m kind, if I’m fair, if I’m a person of integrity, if I help people out, well, that’s the witness. No, no. That’s half of the witness. Part of it is there certainly has to be a lifestyle that demonstrates Christlikeness but people are not going to look at you and go, “Wow, you’re really kind at work. You tell the truth. You come on time. You seem to care about people. Oh my lands! A light bulb went off in my head!”
People don’t know unless they hear. They need to see the message of your life. They need to hear the message of the gospel through your words. It’s those things together.
But as long as I, in my mind, say, “Well, you know, I’m not an outgoing person. People aren’t really open. The power is in the messenger and I’m not a very good messenger and witnessing is I’ll try to do good and live the life,” you know what it ends up in? About eight point five to nine people who are sincere, genuine, followers of Christ never share the love of Christ verbally or the gospel with anyone. With anyone.
It’s like we got a big stopper in the PVC conduit pipe from the grace and love of God to people. And the stopper is us. And the stopper is we believe some lies. We are witnesses.
Stronghold number four: Sharing the good news is an event versus a process. It’s an event. And, by the way, there are wonderful, good events. But what’s happened is we start thinking that what we want to do is somehow figure out how to get people to an event, instead of realizing it’s a process all the time.
I want to love lost people and I like to talk with them because I didn’t grow up in the church and I had such a bad church experience. I have great compassion for people that are turned off by religion.
And what I want you to know is there’s people that you’re sharing with, there’s people that you’re praying for, there’s people that you can water, you sow, you water, you sow, you reap.
But take away the pressure. We need to recklessly, with abandon, just love people with our deeds, and our words, because sharing the good news is a process. It’s not just an event.