Summary: personalizing the sharing of your faith to match your personality (much of the Contagious Christian stuff)
Sharing YOUR Faith YOUR Way: Acts 3-4
October 19-20, 2002
Last week my wife came home from work and said, “I feel bad. I realized on the way home that I had an opportunity to share my faith with a co-worker and I blew it. She had asked a question about how we balance life with both of us working and having a child, and I didn’t recognize that as an opportunity to share the difference that Jesus makes in our life until it was too late.” I tried to encourage her with the fact that she still has a relationship with this person, and there will be other opportunities. But she still felt bad, saying that since I had just preached a sermon on taking opportunities the day before she should have seen it and acted on it.
So the very next day, I was in the grocery store picking up a few things. I got back to my car and realized that the cashier had missed the pop under my cart, so I turned around and went back in and pointed out the mistake. She quickly rang it in, and as she handed me my change said, “thanks for being honest.” I said, “no problem,” and walked back to the car. Then I got home and said, “Joanne, I feel bad. I had an opportunity to share my faith and I missed it too.” Then I think she felt a little better!
I tell you those two stories to encourage you. We’ve spent the last little while talking about evangelism, about the need to share our faith with others. And I’ve been trying to motivate and equip us to be more effective witnesses for Christ in our world. The encouraging part is that we are all growing – a we all have room to improve, myself included. Today I want to get more specific, more practical, as we talk about sharing YOUR faith YOUR way.
Sharing YOUR faith
The first thing I want to look at is sharing YOUR faith. There is an important difference here that I want you to notice: the difference between sharing THE faith and sharing YOUR faith. Sharing THE faith is about communicating a body of facts about God, sin, and salvation. And that is important, it needs to happen at some point along the road, but it isn’t usually where evangelism starts. And it isn’t usually where there is fruit. Sharing YOUR faith is different: it is about sharing what God has done in your life with someone else. It is sharing your testimony of how being in a relationship with God has changed you, has met the deep needs of your heart, how it makes a difference in who you are and how you meet the challenges of life. It is YOUR faith, YOUR journey with God, and how He is real to you.
I’m going to give you two examples in just a moment, but first let me ask you this: do you have a faith to share? How is your relationship with God right now – are you close to Him or distant? Relying on Him or fighting with Him? Letting Him be Lord of your life, or are you calling the shots? Are you holding on to things that He has called you to get rid of? Are you living the full, free, exciting life that God desires for you? If not, let me make a rare invitation. Don’t listen to the rest of my sermon. Now, I don’t say that very often, so take the chance while you have it! If your faith is not at a place of sharing, then take the time right here and now to have a conversation with God, to get that straightened out so that you can move on in the life God desires for you. Let Him speak to you, change you, heal you, restore you, encourage you. Let Him give you something to share. Then borrow the tape or grab a manuscript and get the rest of this…
So what do I mean by sharing YOUR faith. For me personally, I would talk about how I grew up in a home with no father. My parents divorced when I was three, and my mom raised my older brother and me alone. But the truth is that I never really lacked a father, because I always knew and felt that God was there in my life meeting my needs to be loved, to be supported, to be cared for. And for all the tangible things, I was part of a church community full of men who loved God and were wonderful male role-models, who included me in their father-son activities, and who cared about me. I experienced God’s love and reality as I grew up, as the father I never had. That is a part of MY faith; of my experience of God in my life. And that, I think, is a good place to start.