Summary: Our fears of sharing our faith often revolve around how people will respond. What if they reject us or worse raise questions and issues for which we have no answer? Then what do we do?

Bustin’ Barriers

I Peter 3:15b-16 and 1 John 1:5-7

Our Scripture today commands us to always be ready to share the hope we have in our lives, that is, the Good News of Jesus Christ. Those moments can come to us spontaneously. But more often than not, they happen when we are intentional about building relationships by reaching out to people, establishing common ground, showing them you care, spending time with them and joining with them in the spiritual journey. The fact is that nothing is more frightening than the prospect of sharing your faith. The only thing that will allow us to overcome that fear is the power of the Holy Spirit. Our fears of sharing our faith often revolve around how people will respond. What if they reject us or worse raise questions and issues for which we have no answer? Then what do we do? These questions and issues called evangelistic barriers people erect and they can be one of Satan’s most effective tools to prevent us from sharing our faith and giving people the opportunity to make a decision which will change their life but also their eternity.

Today, we’re going to talk about evangelistic barriers and how you can overcome them. Our Scripture today is a picture of our first evangelistic sticking point, The Skeptic Sticking Point. It’s the story of Philip who receives the invitation from Jesus to follow him. He makes that decision and then thinks of his friend Nathaniel and wants to tell him about Jesus. He knew Nathaniel was a student of the Scriptures and the coming of the Messiah. And so he took a risk by talking to him about Jesus. He said, “We’ve found him, the one the Scriptures talk about.” He’s waiting for a response and it wasn’t good. Nathaniel said, “Nazareth?! Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” With those words, Nathaniel completely shuts down the conversation. Maybe that’s happened to you. You try to share the Good news and something the person has done or said completely shuts down the conversation. But notice what Philip doesn’t do: he doesn’t give up. Knowing that Nathaniel is a person of curiosity, who’s always asking questions, he says to him, “Come and see for yourself!” In other words, Philip was saying “I can’t explain it to you or convince you but since you like to investigate and check things out, ‘Come and see!’” Nathaniel ends up meeting Jesus and before long he says, “You are the Son of God!” The key is Philip did not give up when he reached an evangelistic sticking point. He got creative and challenged his friend to check it out in earnest fro himself.

Second is the Readiness Sticking Point. What do you do when you raise spiritual issues in a conversation and the people say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” People who don’t want to talk about Christianity are usually open to talking about why they don’t want to talk about it. So respond by asking them, “Why not? I‘d be interested in hearing” When they are saying they don’t want to talk about it, what they are really saying is that they don’t want to hear you talk about it. Many times, the person will share an entire laundry list of things which bother them about Christianity. Consider this research and preparation for the future. Those things will usually make you more sensitive to them in the future. And if you will listen to them first, then you will begin to build that level of trust which is necessary to gain an opportunity to be heard. Most non-Christians have never had a Christian in their life to whom they could pose really tough questions and dig deeper into what they believe and don’t believe. But if they don’t want to talk about why, then you can say, “That’s OK. We don’t need to talk about it now. But when you’re ready, I want you to know that I will be too. No pressure.” In the meantime, you can begin to pray earnestly for them that they may become more open in the future and that something may happen in their life to move them to asking questions and seeking spiritual truth.

Another thing you can do is to give them something to think about. For example, you can say, “Easter has some pretty incredible claims: someone rose from the dead. Have you ever thought about that?” A lot of times, they haven’t really ever grappled with the rsurrection, looked at the evidence or considered if you believe it leads to eternal life. Have them grapple with that. In the meantime, continue to invite them to church, Bible studies and outreach events.

Third is the Good Person Sticking Point. How do you witness to someone who believes all you have to do in life is be a good person? At the heart of this issue is what it really means to be a Christian. The best thing to do is to turn to God’s Word and let Jesus speak for himself to tell us what it really means to follow him. In John 3, a religious official of his day named Nicodemus came to Jesus to talk about spiritual matters. He was one of the leading religious figures of his day and Jesus said to him, “You need to have a spiritual rebirth and have a relationship with me through which you can be assured of forgiveness and your place in heaven. Say to someone like this: “We could never outdo a Pharisee, someone with his commitment, zeal and lifestyle to follow every iota of the law. There is nothing wrong with trying to live a good life, but that doesn’t get us right with God nor does anything else with developing our relationship with Jesus.” Then is the time to share the difference between DO vs. DONE. Religion is spelled DO. It consists of trying to do enough good deeds to earn our way into God’s favor. The problem is that you never know if you’ve done enough and the Bible says we can never do enough to make up for the sin and rebellion against God in our lives. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the will of God.” Christianity is spelled DONE. What we could never do for ourselves. Christ has done for us. He has paid the penalty we owed for our sin and opened the way for us to have a relationship with God. All we have to do is receive his forgiveness and let him lead every area of our lives. Christ has done it all for us. All we need to do it trust in Him.

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