This is the audio recording of the third reading of week eight of Start, entitled Show and Tell.
“Deep down we all want to share our story.”
Some people can share their faith easily without fear or hesitation, but they are a small minority. Most Jesus-followers love Him a lot, but the thought of telling their story of faith to someone else makes their palms sweat. For many of us, when we think about sharing about Jesus with others, we are filled with anxiety, guilt, or indifference. If we’ve been in church or Christian culture for a while, we may not even have any friendships with non-believers. Or, we may feel like we don’t know enough theology to properly explain Christianity to others. We might sense we should share our faith, but there are so many reasons we don’t. Things like:
- Fear of rejection
- Assuming others are not interested
- The potential awkwardness of spiritual conversations
- Not wanting to appear pushy or judgmental
- Worrying if our lives match up with “Christian” standards
- Fear of being misunderstood, or of damaging a relationship
Those are all very real, legitimate fears. The good news is that God has actually equipped us perfectly to share our stories effectively with others. We tend to underestimate the power of our own stories. After all, we’re used to them! But our stories have power, and there is something very disarming about personal stories. As we share our stories with others, we can be confident God will work through them. Early in Jesus’ ministry, He preached the greatest sermon ever preached. In that sermon He offered some words that can encourage us as we think about sharing our faith:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16
To get the full impact of Jesus’ words here, we need to understand a bit about how salt and light functioned in a world without refrigeration and electricity.
Salt was used as a preservative to keep food from going bad. Salt also had medicinal value in the part of the world where Jesus lived. It was mined from the Dead Sea, and it was effective in healing wounds and stopping infections. Salt (or the lack thereof) had a dramatic impact on the health of entire populations in the ancient world. Jesus’ point is that in a world that is decaying, His followers have the potential to be vessels of preservation and healing.
However, salt is only good when it is in contact with that which it is preserving and healing. If we are going to be effective “salt” it is vital that we are in regular contact with those we are hoping to impact. Multiple studies show that the longer we follow Christ, the fewer relationships we tend to have with non-Christians. We must be intentional about seeking out relationships with those who have not yet come to faith. In his book The Art of Neighboring (quoted above), Jay Pathak says, “We don’t love our neighbors to convert them. We love our neighbors because we have been converted.” This means that when we seek to be “salt” we are simply seeking to pass along the love that God has shown us.
In our culture, “light” is usually just a flip of a switch away. That, of course, was not the case in Jesus’ context. Jesus’ point was that in a dark world, His followers are meant to shine light. He uses an illustration that would have made perfect sense to His hearers. When any of them lit a lamp, they placed it strategically to maximize its ability to light their house. In the same way, we, as “the light of the world,” have been placed strategically by Jesus for maximum impact. Have you ever thought of your life in that way?
As we live as salt and light, God will bring us opportunities to share our stories. If we are intentional about loving our neighbors, co-workers, and families with the love that God has shown us, that will create the relational depth necessary to share our stories without fear or awkwardness.
We need not think of sharing our faith as a frightening conversation with a complete stranger. Sharing our stories is simply about being salt and light, and taking the opportunities God provides. The apostle Paul speaks to our motivation in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “Christ’s love compels us.” Telling our stories of the life-changing hope, healing, and difference of following Jesus on a daily basis isn’t some sort of spiritual obligation. It’s something we learn to do naturally as we experience more and more of God’s love.
- What is the biggest challenge you face in telling your story of faith?
- Share the most recent opportunity you’ve had to share about Jesus with others. If you haven’t had any recently, why not?
- Who are three people in your life who don’t know God who you could be praying for? Take a few moments to pray, asking God for the opportunity to share your story with them.