BEING A WITNESS FOR JESUS CHRIST: THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARING YOUR FAITH
Foundations: In Mark 16:15, Jesus commands us to, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." Then in Matt. 28:19-20a, He says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." And in Acts 1:8b, He gives this command, "...You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Barriers to Sharing Your Witness: Peter challenges us with this assertion, "Who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good?" 1 Pet. 3:13. Yet, based on the large number of Christians who are reluctant to share their faith in public, many must obviously be fearful of some kind of negative repercussion. Let's examine some of the common reasons Christians give for having this reluctance:
1. "Witnessing is a job for trained evangelists." In the early church, every member was an evangelist (see Acts 4:13-20). In fact, Celsus, a Greek scholar and early church critic, complained that Christianity was not being spread by accredited professionals (i.e., priests) but by shopkeepers, workmen, and slaves.
2. "My lifestyle, not words, is my witness." A noticeable Christian lifestyle certainly gives your spoken witness more power; however, simply occupying the same space with non-Christians is no guarantee they'll be attracted to your to faith. You can't 'catch' Christianity any more than you can 'catch' geometry or English grammar. Without the proclamation of the Gospel, your silent witness is little more than an edification of self.
3. "I don't have the gift of evangelism." It's important to separate spiritual gifts-of which every Christian has at least one-from the responsibility given to every Christian for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, serving, giving, and mercy are all identified as gifts (Rom. 12:6-8), but they are also attributes every Christian should apply to themselves.
4. "I don't have time to witness." Not a valid excuse for the vast majority of Christians. Every person has 168 hours a week. Time is something we have to make, to manage. "A person plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9.
5. "I'm too shy." A majority of Americans probably believe themselves to be shy to some extent. But when shyness stops a Christian from taking advantage of a witnessing opportunity, it becomes an inverted form of pride, i.e., "my feelings are more important than obedience to God."
6. "I'm afraid I'll offend somebody." Yes, in our humanistic culture, that's a risk. There are many who are hostile to the Gospel message no matter how we present it. "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Pet: 3:15. Our witness should flow from a heart of love and compassion for the lost, and we should treat them with kindness and respect no matter how they treat us.
7. "I don't know what to say." This is probably the single greatest reason that many church members fall short in sharing their faith. This is why discipleship is vitally important in churches, to equip its members to do the work of the Gospel. Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matt. 4:19. And Paul, the great expert in church building, said, "And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." 2 Tim. 2:2.