How To Share Your Faith (Without Being Weird) Part 3.
Matt Massey |
October 10, 2023
How to Share Your Faith (Without Being Weird): Week 3
I love Larry's story because he's just an average Joe. He's an average Larry, right? He just loves Jesus and wants people to know the love of Jesus. He went back to work so he could share the gospel. He didn't need to go to work, but he wants to be a part of the gospel message being spread.
I know we just celebrated Pastor Appreciation Day and had to stand up for you guys to pray for us. But here's what I want you to know, every one of you in this room. If you're a follower of Jesus, you're a pastor.
We believe in the priesthood of all believers, that if you said yes to Jesus, believe he lived, died and rose again, you repent of your need, and invite the Holy Spirit to come in to you—you're now a pastor. And you're called and invited to be and bring the gospel of Jesus, wherever you go, whether your school, your workplace, your neighborhood, wherever you go.
And you have no idea who you might impact. You have no idea that you might be the only Bible some people ever read. Your life may be the only Bible some people ever read, and that also means your life may have a contrary effect if you don't live it well.
I was in college and I was in my agnostic/atheist phase. On my best days, an agnostic, meaning I didn't know what I believed. On my worst days, an atheist, there is no God, I'm my own God. But I would regularly and often have these, "there's got to be more" moments. I had everything you're supposed to have to be happy, and I wasn't happy. There's got to be more. And so every once in a while, I would go to either an InterVarsity meeting to look for more, or I'd sneak off to a church to look for them. Maybe they had some answers for me. And one particular time I went to a church. And I sat in the back of the auditorium, wearing a ballcap, not wearing a coat and tie because I was not a churchy individual. And it's back in the 80s when there were a lot more churches going on.
And I'm sitting back there in the back row saying, God, are you real? If you're real, would you show me? Show me that you're real? And as if on cue, all of a sudden, this hand slaps my head and knocks the hat off my head. And I turn with this angry look and there is this older gentleman wearing a coat and tie. He goes, "How dare you wear a hat in the house of the Lord. Don’t disrespect God like that."
I almost hit him. Because I wasn't a Christian, it would have been okay. Seriously, it's never okay to hit somebody. And I said "You've gotta be kidding me." And I pick up my hat and I give him a few choice words. And I go storming out and driving in my car back to campus. And I'm like, “seriously, God, if you're real, is that seriously the messenger you're gonna send me?”
Something in that moment kept me in the game. There were enough people in my life—my dad, my mom, my brothers, my sister who loved Jesus—that I thought, well, there's something there. They love Jesus authentically, there's something there.
And just three days later, I got hit with a massive fever, a 106-degree temperature. I passed out at my fraternity house, they rushed me to the hospital. And while in the hospital for four days, I had three visitors—my girlfriend at the time, one fraternity brother, and then the arch-rival fraternity president who he and I were friendly. And he showed up three of the four days, the others just showed up twice. He showed up three of the four days, brought me food, brought a deck of cards. We played cards, we hung out, we talked and he asked me every question known to my life, to know me, hear me—like six hours, sitting with me. Just listening, asking questions. And I talked, and I talked, and I talked.
And on the third day, he finally said to me, "Do you wonder why I'm here, Matt?" Yeah, actually, I mean, I do. We're friends, but like, you're not one of my best. I mean, like, our tribes are like a Democrat visiting a Republican. We hated each other! So he shows up for six hours and gives me that kind of time. That's it.
“Yeah, actually. I do wonder why you're here,” I said.
And he said, “Two reasons. First, I love you.” That's not what we say to each other, right? It's not common. “I love you as a human, I love you as a child of God, I love you as a friend. And number two, I want you to know the love of Jesus that I've experienced in my life. And I want you to know how much he loves you. Can I share the story of Jesus with you?”
Do you think I said no, in that moment? I was absolutely “Share away!” And he shared his story. And he shared the gospel story with me.
I did not pray to receive Christ in that moment. It wasn't like I did a prayer to receive Christ in that moment. I listened. I said, “Thank you so much.”
And then he left. But in that two-hour time, he redeemed what the jerk had done just three days earlier. He redeemed and undid, and started me on a closer path that my folks had been moving me on, my brothers and sisters had been moving me on. And I just think to myself today, what if he had not gone to the hospital to see me? What if he had not taken the risk to share the gospel of Jesus with me? Who would if he had stayed silent or cared more about what I thought than what God thought? Thankfully, we'll never know. I don't know what would have happened. I believe God's God, he's the author of us. But all I know is he took the risk, and it had a radical impact on my life. So much.
So the people that touched my life are the reason why I'm here today. And every one of us in this room are here, because someone took the risk, to share the Good News of Jesus with us—the fact that Jesus lived a perfect life, God in the flesh, that He died a horrific death on the cross to set us free from our sin, that every one of us is sinful, and he rose again, to show us He is the powerful Good God who can set us free from our sin. Everyone was here, because someone shared that story with us with their lives. And with their words, we get to, we need to, it's our privilege, it's our challenge, to be people that show and share the Gospel to everyone we come in contact with.
That's why we're doing this series: how to share your faith, and not be weird. We want to learn how to share the Good News of Jesus in a loving and compelling way. That is neither rude, nor judgmental, but it's full of grace and full of love and full of the truth of Jesus. That's our call and interpretation.
So, how do I hear someone else's story? How do I learn to share my story? And how do I learn to tell THE story?
To hear their story: to be curious, to ask lots and lots and lots of questions. And secondly, learn to share your story: all of us have a story to tell, be authentic and be real about your story. There are no perfect people in this room.
And then lastly, learn how to tell the story. There are multiple ways to tell the Gospel story of Jesus, pick one. Every one should involve the incarnation of Jesus, that He came to earth as a perfect Son of God, that He died on a cross and set us free from our sin, that we're all sinful, and that He rose from the dead to set us free. That's the best story ever told.
And remember, as we said a few weeks ago, it's not your job to save people. No one in this room is ever going to save somebody. The Holy Spirit does the saving thing. It's your job to be faithful and show up for you. Be available and be faithful and show up.
I think there are two primary reasons we don't share the Gospel, two big lies that we hear that prevent us from sharing the gospel. Here are the two: that “my story isn't good enough.” And “I don't know enough.”
And I just want to blow those up and say that just couldn't be further from the truth. The enemy wants you to think you don't have a good enough story and the enemy wants you to think you don't know enough.
Here's the deal. If you recognize your need, if you've admitted your sin, and you've encountered Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior and you're an authentic, real person, you have a story to tell.
And in many ways, by the way, the best story you could tell is one that “I felt like I had it all together, but I recognize my need and Jesus met my needs, and I'm not perfect, I don't have it all figured out.” And if you think you don't know enough, you don't—none of us know enough. You don't have to go to seminary to know everything, right? All you need to know is admit your need, Holy Spirit comes in you, you've encountered Jesus, and then you share your story and the story with others. If the Holy Spirit's in you, you know enough, and you can point people to the direction of knowing more.
I like to say, Jesus's first two missionaries that he sent out, knew virtually nothing. And they were people that the world rejected, and Jesus accepted because that's what Jesus does. He picks people everyone else rejects and says, "I see you, I love you. And I'm inviting you to go share the story of my love with others."
The woman at the well in John chapter four, I'm not gonna go into this one in depth today. But this woman who had five husbands, she was the town prostitute. She's at the well in the middle of the day, because no one else went to the well at that time. And on that day she was full of shame. And Jesus encounters her, loves her, tells her of His love, and says, "Now go back to your village," and she shares the gospel, their whole village, and they all come to Christ —the least of the least, who knew nothing, had no theological training.
And my favorite one is Mark chapter five. It's the man of the tombs, the demon-filled man. Jesus is on his side of the Sea of Galilee, and he gets in a boat with his guys, his disciples. “Let's go cross the sea, for one reason.” And crossing the sea for a Jew was crossing the abyss. The water was dark and scary. You don't cross the water unless you had to, even though they were fishermen, they were afraid of the sea.
And Jesus crosses the abyss, hits the beach. And everyone knew that across the sea, in the Gentile territory, was a guy in the tombs. He was the demon-possessed man, he was filled with a legion of demons—that's anywhere between 1000-6000 demons. He was sitting in the tombs, night and day, shouting, cutting himself, they tried to chain him, and he would break the chains with his superhuman strength. Everyone in the region knew about him and everyone was scared of him. They avoided him.
And he comes running down the hillside towards Jesus on the beach. Jesus steps out of the boat, walks up, he slides down on his knees before Jesus, and the disciples are stepping out of the boat like, “We're getting back in.” And Jesus looks at this guy, and they start to have a conversation. And the first thing the demons say to Jesus is, "Sir, what do you want with us, Son of God, Son of Man? What do you want with us?"
Imagine 1000 to 6000 voices? What did that sound like? It had to be spooky, eerie, and he's wide-eyed and wild-haired. Jesus isn't afraid at all, Jesus just loves. And then the demons say, as if to say “We know you're going to cast us out of him, we know you're going to win, don't kill us, or don't send us in the abyss, send us into the pigs up on the hill.”
Now notice, this demon-possessed guy didn't repent. He didn't confess some knowledge. He didn't have any schooling. Jesus just says “Get out of the man.” And the 1000 to 6000 demons go into the pigs. And the pigs rush off the hill. Now they got pork soup for dinner.
And the townspeople are like “What just happened?” They run back to their town. They say, “This guy Jesus cast out the demons, we’re afraid of him.” And they all come back to Jesus and say, “Would you please get in the boat and go back?”
I mean, he just does this amazing miracle with a guy that they all knew. And they say, “Would you go back?” So Jesus starts to get back in the boat and the Bible says that the demon-possessed man is sitting there now dressed, and in his right mind. He's had an entire change, a metamorphosis has occurred—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We're now led to believe that he's received Christ as Lord and Savior. He knows nothing, has had no schooling, and he says “Jesus, would you let me go with you? I need to learn from you. Let me go with you.” He knows nothing.
And what does Jesus say? You think he'd say: “Get in the boat. Let's go.” No, here's what he says. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along. But Jesus wouldn't let him. Instead he said, “Go home to your own people, the Decapolis, the 10 towns region, go home. Tell them your story. Tell what your master did, how I had mercy on you.”
The man went back and began to preach in the 10 towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.
Come on! Like you don't think you know enough? You don't think you know enough! Many of us had years and years of church history. You know enough! If this guy could do it, we can do it. Just step into your communities and tell of what Jesus has done for you.
Listen well to people, hear their story, share your story, and then tell the story of Jesus.