Summary: This is the second of a 4 part series adapted from Willow Creek’s Contagious Christian Evangelism Training course.
BE CONTAGIOUS: WEEK 2
Scott Bayles, pastor
Adapted from “If Jesus Lived in My House,” by Lee Strobel
As we begin week two of our “Becoming a Contagious Christian” series, let me share a story from Lee Strobel—one of the authors of the Contagious Christian training materials. It’s not actually Lee’s story; rather it was a Christian friend of his named John, who had taken a routine business trip to Atlanta.
Everything was going according to schedule and he decided to stop into this little sunglass shop at the airport to pick up some sunglasses for his trip. So he went into the shop, picked out a pair of sunglasses, paid for them, and started to walk out of the store.
And just as he was walking out the door, he got one of those “nudgings” from God. He said, “I just knew I had to turn around, go back into the store, and talk to the cashier about Jesus. I just knew I had to do it. But,” he said, “How could I?” On what basis could he get into a spiritual conversation with this stranger? He already made the purchase. He was on his way out the door. But he didn’t dismiss that nudging; instead, he used what he himself called “the worst transition into a spiritual conversation in the history of evangelism.”
He goes back into the store and starts browsing through the sunglasses again to buy himself some time, then finally he looks over at the cashier and says, “Sunglasses, huh?”
The cashier, who was reading a newspaper behind the register, looked up and said with a bit of sarcasm, “Yeah.”
So John puts the sunglasses on and says, “Isn’t it great that, uh, these sunglasses can, like, um, protect our eyes from the brightness of the flames of the sun?”
“Uh huh,” the guy respond.
Then John blurted out: “Well, wouldn’t it be great if we had something that could protect us from the flames of hell?” As soon as the words came out of his mouth, he admitted later, “I couldn’t believe I said that!”
But, the guy sat down his newspaper, looked him right in the eyes, and said, “You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.”
At first, John was so shocked all he could say was, “Really!?” But then he started talking to him about Jesus. He talked about forgiveness and grace and eternal life, and tears started flowing down this cashier’s face. Then in a prayer of repentance and faith, right there at the counter of the Sunglass Hut, that man received Jesus Christ as the forgiver of his sins and the leader of his life.
Later John runs up to Lee at church to tell him this story, and he said, “It was unbelievable! The day started out so routine, so normal, so average. Who would have known that it would end up in such an adventure?”
That’s what the Christian life is like when you develop a contagious heart—that is, when you yearn to let God use you to reach others, and you make yourself available to talk about Jesus when opportunities arise, and you learn to listen to those little nudging from the Holy Spirit.
This is the antidote for a dry Christian life. When you’re living on the evangelistic edge, that’s when your prayer life is at its most fervent, because you’re praying to God for help; it’s when your Bible study becomes its most intense, because you’re not just looking for abstract theological truths, but for wisdom that can help lead someone to Jesus; it’s when your dependence on God is at its greatest, because you know that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, there’s no way you can bring about the salvation of anybody.
This is the real adventure of the Christian life. But in order to life that adventure, you have to be prepared. And that’s what I want to talk to you about. You know the Boy Scout motto is “Always be prepared,” right? Well Contagious Christians have a similar motto—it’s found in 1 Peter 3:15-16: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (NIV).
In other words, Peter is saying that any time, any opportunity you have to talk to someone about Jesus (who, by the way, is the “reason for the hope you have”), you should be prepared to do it. Always be prepared! But there is a lot more that goes into that preparation than, just having a pat answer memorized in case someone asks.