There’s hardly a scarier and more intimidating thing to do in the Christian life than to speak up and share your faith with a lost person. Every Christian believes that the gospel should be shared with every person on the planet, but also, most Christians struggle with actually sharing it.
There is perhaps no greater disparity in modern Christendom—we all believe that others should share the gospel. How can we break through this? How can we neutralize Satan’s efforts so intimidate us into silence?
In Luke 8, Jesus arrived at the shore of Decapolis—a region east of Jordan made up of 10 Gentile cities (mostly Greek in population.) He beached the boat between a graveyard and a herd of pigs—both unclean to Jewish law. He chose the spot on purpose because He had a providential appointment with a demon-possessed man who would be showing up early that morning.
As Jesus stepped ashore, this wild-eyed man came screaming down the beach, naked and bloodied—like something out of a Stephen King novel. The demons within immediately exclaimed Jesus’ identity—Son of God Most High—and then cowered in His presence.
With astonishing power and compassion, Jesus commanded the demons to leave the man and permitted them to destroy pigs on the nearby hillside. This display of ultimate, cosmic authority simultaneously rescued the man and left the local people paralyzed with fear.
Jesus redeemed the demon-possessed man, and (over perhaps several hours) spent time with him—teaching and communing with him.
Sometime later, a multitude of people arrived on scene. After seeing what happened, they were seized by terror and begged Jesus to leave. His very presence scared and convicted them beyond description. They wanted to be away from Jesus.
The amazing thing about this story is that Jesus honored their request—He left—but He did not give up on them. They rejected Him but He didn’t not reject them. They wanted Him gone, but they didn’t realize how badly they needed Him. Jesus left, but not really. He left physically, but He remained spiritually.
He commissioned His first missionary—the redeemed demoniac. He sent him back home to Gadera. Jesus gave this man a mission to go and tell his story—to share with Decapolis the great things God had done for him. In this, Jesus revealed His tenacious love and refusal to give up on people who reject Him.
It’s astounding to note that Jesus would rather send a new Christian to witness than to stay Himself. Jesus chose to go away at the request of the crowds, but remained there through the witness of the “maniac-turned-missionary.”
To some, Jesus’ power is terrifying, until it is put on display in the life of His redeemed child. His grace and love displayed through a changed life can melt icy hearts. Jesus in person was imposing and intimidating to the Greeks. But Jesus at work in the life of His child was attractive, gracious, compassionate, and winsome!
How do we know this to be the case? Because the man obeyed Jesus and published His good news throughout all of Decapolis. Some months later, when Jesus returned, multitudes greeted Him, and this time they welcomed Him!
Often, to lost men, God is terrifying. What else could we expect from someone in darkness? But over time, thru loving relationships, in grace-filled community, and through the display of redeemed hearts, the story of God’s love and grace is convicting, compelling, and inviting to those “willing to believe.”
Exposure to grace-filled Christians who display humility and love is what takes the weirdness and awkwardness—the religiosity—out of the Gospel. Authentic Christianity—the kind that is still amazed and over-joyed by grace—shows the lost how truly attractive Jesus is. Genuine love and grace demystifies Christianity—“de-complexifies” it, and un-skews the cultural narrative that blinds or hardens so many skeptical hearts.
Jesus told us to be salt. To an icy sidewalk in a New England Winter, salt melts the hardness. But it only works well if it is spread out—distributed well. If you spill a pile of salt in one place, it melts ice in only one place. But if you spread it out across an entire surface, a lot of ice will melt. Even so, a healthy church may come together to worship, but then believers spread out across a community, on mission with God to collectively melt an icy culture.
You and I are like the redeemed man in Luke 8. We were in bondage to sin, but Jesus saved us and began to write a different story through our lives. His grace is now at work within you. His love is transforming you. His word is changing you. His presence is conforming you into His image—the most loving, most gracious, and truest version of yourself.
Every day, He sends you back home and back to your city. He sends you to your workplace, your neighbors, and your daily grind. Like the man in Luke 8, we’d all rather be with Him! We look forward to eternity and the hope of Heaven. But until then, He has sent us home with a mission—to publish His story through ourstory!
You see, it is through YOUR STORY that you are most able to tell HIS STORY! Just as Jesus taught, the message of the gospel is most clearly seen, experienced, and believed when delivered in the heart-gripping context of selfless, sacrificial love.
Through you and in you, they see Him. In you they understand Him. The Jesus they once rejected, they may eventually accept—because they see Him in you, and the Jesus they see in you is different than the one they were afraid to trust or follow. “Who they thought Jesus was”, and “who He turns out to be in your life” makes the message clear and wonderfully attractive.
Your witness, your love, your grace breaks down the barriers, pierces through the lies, and reveals the truth of the Gospel—JESUS IS GOOD NEWS! JESUS IS ATTRACTIVE! His word is true, and His truth is good news!
Thousands of years later, the world is still blinded to the good news of grace like the Greeks in Decapolis. Nothing makes the truth more visible, tangible, and desirable than a once desperate life redeemed by unconditional grace. You are the gospel on display!
Witnessing of Jesus isn’t only about a church program or weekly schedule. Witnessing of Jesus is what you do perpetually—with words and with your life. Sure, it should be on purpose. Yes, it must somehow be vocal and intentional in sharing God’s word and the truth of the gospel. Absolutely it should be courageous and consistent. But it should also be natural and comfortable—like you’re telling someone a story—recalling an encounter you’ve had personally.
It doesn’t need to be forced, contrived, or awkward. You don’t need a seminary degree or a training course.
Have you considered, when you speak up and witness of Jesus, some pretty amazing things happen:
First, you enter into eternal mission with Jesus Christ on planet earth! You’re never closer to your most essential purpose and calling than when you are pointing someone to Jesus and leading them closer to Him.
Second, you avail yourself of one of the most joyful experiences in all of life! Few things can come close to the awesome, overwhelming joy of being used by God to help someone come to Christ.
Third, you enter into the most critical moment of another person’s life! Do you remember who led you to Jesus? Of course you do. You will never forget that person. So it will be with the next person you point to Jesus.
Fourth, you enter into a power-filled, presence-of-God moment! There are many ways we can hope to see God at work in our lives. But there’s one way guaranteed to see the power of God at work—that’s the moment you share the powerful Gospel of Jesus with a hungry heart.
The redeemed maniac of Luke 8 obeyed. Based upon his encounter with Jesus’ power and transforming grace, he didn’t hesitate. He returned home with the assumption that obedience was possible, that providential appointments were inevitable, and that fruit was unavoidable! He knew that Jesus’ power enabled Him, Jesus’ omniscience directed Him, and Jesus’ grace would do for others what it had done for Him.
He wanted others to experience in Jesus what he had experienced! Don’t you?
Go tell someone YOUR STORY! Be yourself. Speak in plain English. Display the grace and joy that Jesus has put in you, and point others to the cross.
This past week, I received an encouraging text message from a growing Christian friend in my church. He said:
“I have been encouraged today from the message in Ephesians about doing the will of God where we are in life. I feel more clearly than ever that I am where I’m supposed to be and representing God daily through my words and actions in the workplace. I was able to witness to a coworker yesterday who asked me why I am so happy. I said ‘it’s the joy of the Lord’ and that just opened a big door because questions poured in after that!”
In the presence of real joy and grace, skeptical hearts often become curious. You may not know it yet, but hearts near you are curious. And God sent you to them, on purpose, because those curious hearts need to hear His story in your story.
Several weeks ago, a friend in my church asked me to meet with his financial advisor to share the gospel. A few days later we met for nearly two hours, and this man became a new brother as he prayed and asked Jesus to be His personal Saviour. It was a wonderful meeting.
The story became even more amazing when two weeks later, another new Christian approached me at church and said, “Hey, thank you for witnessing to my friend from the gym! I’ve been telling Him about the gospel!”
Two men in the same church (who sit on opposite sides of the auditorium and don’t know each other) were witnessing to the same man at different times of the day! This is an amazing example of the providence and personal work of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel is still powerful and God’s Spirit is already at work around you. Curious hearts are looking for answers very near to you. God invites you to be His vessel—His co-laborer in the process of helping them understand His gift of grace.
Don’t let fear or insecurity silence you. Speak up. Step into the conversation with courage and confidence in Jesus. Display grace and love. He is in you. He goes before you. He speaks through you. And He will use your story!
It’s astounding that He chooses to use redeemed maniacs like us.
What an amazing story we each have to share with those who do not know Him!
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)