How to Give Away your Faith
by Paul Little
Chapter One Highlights
Realism is Essential
We must be realistic about the world we live in. Times are changing faster than ever before in history. Even though Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, we have to realise that these changing times significantly affect the attitudes and receptiveness of those to whom we witness.
- Technology is having a huge impact in society. While it gives us answers to many things, it often leaves people uncertain of the future.
- Alarming numbers of people are looking for honest answers in new self-help or human potential movements.
- Today’s generation is content with a materialistic, value-free society. Allan Bloom (University of Chicago) says that university students do not fear error, but intolerance. He calls this ‘spiritual entropy” (Entropy : gradual decline into disorder)
- This uncertain and confused soil (that is modern society/culture) is what we need to sow the truth of Jesus Christ in.
Christianity is Realistic
Christians cannot ignore what is happening to society.
We have to be convinced beyond all doubt that the Christian faith
has a message for all facets of this world, that its truth has
transformed our lives and that it is of supreme value for everyone!
We need to understand our world if we are to understand the people in it. Christianity is not just concerned with spiritual things. The Christian faith affirms material things, yet sees beyond them to spiritual things, the ultimate reality.
Jesus explained this well with the feeding of the 5000. (John 6) Jesus saw the crowd’s need and fed them. Jesus used the example of feeding them (physically) to explain spiritual hunger. “Do not work for the food that spoils, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
Jesus acknowledged that material food and hunger is real. But he emphasised that spiritual realities were more important. Spiritual realities give meaning to the material world!
Jesus saw the crowd as real people, with immediate needs and also as souls with spiritual hunger.
Jesus example must lead us to consider how we would act .
Firstly, we must be aware of the condition of those around us. Hungry, tired, bored, lonely, mistreated or rejected. We must try to understand what and how they think, how they feel, what they must aspire to be and do.
Now that we agree that we should witness, even that we must witness we come to the questions, “How can we witness? How can we explain clearly to this world that Jesus Christ is a right and relevant solution today? What grounds can we approach those who touch our lives and expect to be heard – and believed?”
Start with the Person Next Door
We need person-to-person contact.
As Christians we must turn from the world-at-large to the person next-door and realise that when we get involved personally with others, evangelism takes off.
Unless we stop theorising and reach and knock on our neighbour’s door we will never get to real witnessing. Lifestyle evangelism begins with talking to people who in some way touch our lives.
A first easy step is to listen, not talk. Stop talking long enough to hear.
Focus your thoughts on how the other person is feeling. “Listen with your heart, not your mind.”
Invest the time only if you are willing to be a friend, not so that you can inject ‘the gospel pill’ and see what happens.
Keep up to date with community and world events. (News, Online sources, Local Newspapers, Magazines)
Expand your information base and you will see a slice of life different to your own. It will help you relate the gospel to real life situations.
Informed Christians will naturally begin caring about their community and world. You’ll find yourself working shoulder to shoulder with the world that Jesus Christ came to redeem.
What do Christians have to Offer?
Seekers are often carefully examining our Christian groups and us as individual Christians to find that eternal dimension we talk about. Superficiality won’t convince them.
Is There a Difference in the Christian?
Does knowing Jesus Christ as our Saviour make a difference to our everyday life? Does it change how we act? How do non-Christians see us react and deal with every day occurrences & choices? Does knowing Jesus Christ influence our life choices?
The Busy Christian
Do you have time for the unbelieving world? Does sheer busyness prevent you from taking any action? The world will listen to our message when they see that we have an ear that’s tuned in.
No Phoney Christians
Phoney solutions will never sell to our non-Christian contemporaries.
If Christians can demonstrate evidence in their own lives that Jesus Christ has rescued them – that for them Jesus is a living, daily reality – that will be realistic Christianity.
Three Kinds of Faith
Indoctrination faith – People who go without making a personal commitment to Christ, go through all the motions, sing all the right hymns, have all the right answers about the gospel. They are well schooled from early childhood and never miss a church service. They’ve got all the information, but that is all the they’ve got.
Conformity faith – People who do all the right things, non of the wrong things. Not because of a deep-seated conviction, but because of external pressure. These people get out of their comfort zone and are suddenly faced with the superficiality of their faith. Their faith is ‘environmental’.
Commitment faith – Those who realise that being a Christian is more than giving mental assent to the facts about Jesus Christ. (Even demons know about Jesus; James 2:19) People with commitment faith are genuine followers of Jesus Christ and are committed to him on a double-or-nothing basis.
Oozing into Christianity
We have to be cautious of the often unconscious belief that people can ‘ooze into Christianity’. Little uses hymns as an example. We can sing hymns as though they are our very own, yet they aren’t. When we mouth truths without thought or meaning, it leads us to accept an unreal experience as a norm. Without realising it, we are living a lie.
Believing Facts is Not Enough
Believing the facts about Jesus can cause us unwittingly to accept intellectual belief as an end in itself. We could miss the experience of being dynamically related to the Person who embodies these facts. Just knowing facts about Jesus is not the same as knowing him personally. For many of us, our background may have included many facts about Jesus Christ, without helping us reach him as a living, present person.
Two Essential Ingredients for Faith
a. A commitment to belong to Jesus Christ. This is a continual, lifetime involvement of one’s self with the living Lord.
b. Love and obedience to our Lord and Saviour. Our love is for the Lord of all the earth. We are called to ‘enter the kingdom’, enter into a relationship with him – to enter this relationship is not a matter of using correct vocabulary or going through the empty motions. It involved a clear resolve to do his will. He does not accept us and love us because of our obedience to him, but our obedience is the evidence of a true commitment to him as our Lord.
Does Faith Need Action?
Faith, by its very nature, demands action. Faith is action.
If you tell someone that Jesus Christ is the one and only Saviour, that life’s full meaning can only be known through him and that apart from him all people are under the eternal condemnation of God, then go away and ignore God’s words and live a self-indulgent life, you won’t be believing or entering into the kingdom of heaven in a biblical sense.
The Bible is full of examples of people who by their actions showed that their faith was the very essence of their lives. Rahab, Joseph, Moses etc.
How do you Treat God?
Our actions are based on the answer to the question,”How do you treat God?” Do we have a hunger to know him, to daily study his Word and take the time to pray to him?
Non-Christians need to detect the supernatural quality of our Christian experiences. Then they will listen to our words about Jesus Christ and ask what it means to know him personally.
Be Honest with Yourself
Let’s be honest with ourselves and not put up a front to impress someone else. In the presence of God we can each ask ourselves whether we have genuine faith, faith that’s actually meaningful every day. If we can answer yes, we need to thank God and ask him to deepen and extend our faith in every part of our life. If it’s a no, go to Jesus in prayer and ask him to help you. Put yourself in his very capable hands!
No Halfway for Christians
There is no halfway faith in Jesus Christ. If we hold out on him and rebel in areas of our life, our spiritual vitality suffers.
The deepest joy that can be known in our life comes from total commitment to Jesus Christ and his will for us. We will find that telling others about him is an incomparable experience. Ask the Lord Jesus to live in us as Lord and Saviour and fill our lives. From there we can ask him to give us inner boldness and vigour to give away our faith to others.
The joy and rewards of witnessing are superb.
Remember: to witness effectively we must be realistic – genuine in our knowledge of
people in today’s world and genuine in our total commitment to Jesus Christ.
Let’s Get the Conversation Started!
Invite someone over for coffee and have a conversation about this first chapter!
Are you convinced that the message of Jesus Christ is the most important in the world and has supreme value for everyone? If you are, how does your conviction play out in your everyday life?
Thinking of the people around you (non-christians); how do you keep in touch with them so that you are always up to date with their ‘condition’?
Do you know the person living next door or across the road? If you don’t, how could you remedy this?
Are you a good listener? Ask a well trusted friend. Be ready for the honest truth.
How do you stay in touch with world, national and local events?
Do you have time in your schedule for the unbelieving world? Take a look at your (or your family) schedule and ask the same question. Is it a good thing if our entire schedules are filled with only personal or church commitments? Is this something you need to change?
Have you ever experienced the joy of telling someone about Jesus Christ? If not, what has held you back? If you have, do you share this with other church members?