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If you talk to 10 people on the street, you will likely find 10 different opinions about who God is, what God is like, how God deals with humans and what God expects of us.
Surveys have shown that even among Christians, ideas about Jesus, grace, sin, forgiveness, faith, repentance, obedience, etc., vary widely. How much more do ideas about Jesus vary among non-Christians?
Suppose I approach a stranger in a coffee shop and ask him if he knows Jesus. What comes into his mind? Is his idea of Jesus that of a melancholy-eyed weakling as Jesus has often been depicted in art?
When he was young did the stranger’s parents tell him that Jesus hated jazz, cards, beer and Catholics? Maybe his neighbors are Christians who won’t let their kids play with his kids.
With that background, how would this stranger be inclined to feel about my question, and about me? He would probably be annoyed, and his already negative impression of Christians and of Christ would be substantiated.
And all because I assumed that God doesn’t really care how we spread the gospel, as long as we do it.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 points out that there is “a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.” Among these are “a time to plant and a time to harvest” and “a time to be quiet and a time to speak up.”
Francis of Assisi once said, “Always preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” People are not attracted to uninvited strangers who invade their space, but to those who have proven they care, people whose lives reflect the love of God.
In Colossians 4:5-6, the apostle Paul wrote,
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
When a person is curious about our Christian hope because we live as though Christ is the Lord of our life, then that person has a more accurate perspective of Jesus because he or she has seen Jesus in us.
The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:10:
“God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.”
God has richly blessed us with active parts in his work of building up the body of Christ, the church, and reaching out with the gospel to nonbelievers. The greatest tool he has given us is his own life, ministered to us by the Holy Spirit and reflected in the way we live.
It is Christ in us being reflected to others with his grace and kindness that makes our witness to the gospel attractive.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.