I’ve been thinking a lot about why we don’t tell people that we see in our daily life about how Jesus has changed our lives and that we want Him to change theirs, too! I’ve come up with the obvious reasons in the past:
- Uncomfortable pushing religion on people
- I don’t know what to say
- Never seems to be the right time
- Afraid of rejection
- Afraid of offending someone
But God revealed another reason to me that made so much sense I wanted to share it today and talk about how we get through it.
It starts with a question: What two subjects were you told were impolite to talk about when you were a kid? I’ve asked this question in a number of groups lately and without hesitation the answer was:
Religion and politics.
Yup, if you grew up in the Baby Boomer generation and perhaps the generations afterwards you were told point blank that you never spoke about religion or politics in public and you never asked about someone else’s salary. Those subjects were just taboo, at least taboo if you wanted to have friends.
So think about that for a minute. We have at least one full generation of people born between 1944 and 1964 who were told not to talk about Jesus in public. AND that generation also was told that if someone talked to them about Jesus that was an offense, rude, impolite, offensive, and not to be tolerated in polite society.
Is it any wonder church evangelism is in the sorry state it’s in right now and that society completely rejects Christian values when you see it through the prism of polite societal norms?
One of the funniest responses I get from people when I share my faith is when they say that their faith is private between them and God. Well, that fits the societal taboo rules, but it’s not biblical. As Christians we are told to GO OUT and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them everything Jesus said. All of that is a public profession.
Scripture tells us clearly to proclaim Jesus’ name – conversely Jesus tells us that if we are ashamed of His name He will be ashamed of ours in front of the Father (Luke 9:26 – and you don’t want that!) Scripture also tells us that our faith is to be communal with other believers not between just you and God as if Christianity is some private affair.
While you may be more comfortable with a private relationship with God it’s not what God actually calls you to do even if society applauds you for your discernment.
I’ll admit that this is a tough nut to crack evangelically. How do you help people be receptive to something they’ve been told is not an acceptable subject?
The answer is relationship.
Jesus taught us plainly that the Gospel is about relationship – relationship with Him and relationship with each other. You simply cannot evangelize a person without first building a relationship! And you cannot build a relationship with someone unless you are willing to invest the following components into that relationship:
- Love – you must show Agape (Godly) love to the person
- Compassion – you must truly care about the person
- Empathy – you must meet them where they are not where you are
- Time – you must be willing to put the time into the relationship to build it into a true relationship
- Commitment – you must be committed to the relationship and not just for the other person but for you, too
- Trust – you have to build trust through actions not words in the relationship
- Loyalty – you must show your loyalty to the relationship by loving the person regardless of their performance
- Christ-likeness – you must show them Christ in you
After you do all of this you can talk with them about Jesus and they will be receptive. It goes back to that old saying, “Nobody cares about how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Personally I think the taboo about talking about religion is a ploy of Satan’s to keep Christians from sharing the Good News of Jesus and his grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, and reconciliation with our brothers and sisters. I think Satan folded it into politics, money and sex so it didn’t stand out so much and that people would say, “Yeah that makes sense.” But as an evangelical Christian it makes no sense unless your goal is for others to be separated from God for eternity, then it makes perfect sense.
So my evangelical friends, we must get through this talking-about-religion taboo. You should be as bold talking about Christ in public as you are on Facebook where you talk religion and politics all the time! But do yourself a favor – build relationships with people with whom you want to share the Gospel. Do that first and then the Jesus stuff will come naturally!