The Fear Cycle
Any number of fears may creep into your heart when it comes to sharing the gospel. Are you afraid of a raised eyebrow? Raised complaints? Raised taxes? Raised fists? Raised swords? Or are you afraid of not knowing how to raise the issue of the gospel in the first place?
One of the lies we believe about evangelism is that we should make peace with our fears. We rationalize, “My fears are justified,” “I’m not good at answering questions,” “I never know where to start,” and “My personality is incompatible with sharing the gospel in my context.”
Fear is sneaky, isn’t it? We think we’re chasing happiness when we follow our fearful heart, but fear sabotages our joy every time. Ironically, fear keeps us from enjoying an act of worship that actually grows our zeal for Jesus. When we shrink back in fear and refrain from sharing our faith, our dampened zeal then makes us feel that we might be faithless phonies. Next, our feelings of faithlessness then make us feel ashamed and guilty. Finally, our feelings of guilt feed our fears and close our mouths and never even start talking about the Lord. Fear is a vicious cycle.
We think we’re chasing happiness when we follow our fearful heart, but fear sabotages our joy every time.
You Start with God
But as with any other lie, we can starve our fears about evangelism by feeding ourselves with the truth. We always start with truths about God and go from there. When we’re led by the Spirit and step out in faith to spread the Word about what Jesus has done for us on the cross, our fears are silenced, and our joy in the gospel increases. It’s true—eyebrows, complaints, taxes, fists, and swords might very well be raised—but our affections for God and faith in his Son are raised even higher when we share our faith.
The same lie-starving strategy applies to our fear of not knowing how to raise the issue of the gospel in the first place. Every time we think about evangelism we always start with God—who he is, what he has done, and what he will do—and we starve our fears.
One truth about God that has helped me to combat the fear of not knowing where to start in sharing my faith is that God has strategically designed my everyday life to be bursting with opportunities to joyfully spread the gospel.
I can’t start with myself—my life and all its intricate details—I have to start with God. God is God; I didn’t make God, but God made me. God has a plan; his plan for the fullness of time is that all things would be summed up in his Son. Jesus will be the centre of everything. I’m part of that plan by grace. By grace! Thank you for the cross, Lord. I can’t believe I get to be part of this plan. God has designed my life as part of that plan.
Today I get to walk by faith and see what God has in store as he pours out his grace on me, my family, and my neighbors. What will God do today? I have some idea—some things “in pencil” on my calendar, but where will the Spirit blow like wind today? “You’ve saved, equipped, and sent me, God, now lead me today,” I pray for his help. I don’t start with myself, I can’t. If I start with myself then the subliminal aim of my day is “my kingdom come, my will be done,” and that’s not really what I want at all.
God Has Already Started
So, how do we raise the issue of the gospel in our daily lives? God has already raised the issue in your friends’ lives because they know you. God has so ordered the cosmos so that your friend, coworker, mechanic, barista, or child made in his image might have an opportunity to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ through his ambassador. A living, breathing messenger of reconciliation. What mercy—he is rich in mercy! Jesus has other sheep and they will hear his voice; could he cross your path with one of those dear ones today?
Not sure where to start? Remember what God has already started. God took the first step in promising and giving a Redeemer to save us from our sin which separates us from him. Starve all of the lies that feed your fears about evangelism. When you don’t know where to start in a conversation, remember who God is, what he has done, and what he will do.
So when you’re living the everyday life God has designed for you and he crosses your path with someone, ask him to help you start with a word that leads to all the other words: Hi.
- Opening Doors to Faith at Work (Kathleen Nielson, Happy Khambule)
- The Most Important Thing Parents Can Do This Summer (Jamie R. Love)
- 5 Myths about Evangelism (Kathleen Nielson)