Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Few Thoughtz: Speaking of Jesus

Peace and blessings,

"God wants us available to people, not shouting instructions at them. He wants us to get into others' lives. He may not ask us to steal a boat, but he may ask us to cross some conventional boundaries. If we are willing to risk our comfort to get into other people' worlds with the truth we bear, we'll be a more powerful witness than all the instruction manuals in the world."

- p. 37

This past summer I had the opportunity to read "Speaking of Jesus" by J. Mack Stiles (1995), a book that deals with ways in which we as Christians can be more effective in spreading the gospel and building up God's kingdom. Through personal stories as well through an analysis of Jesus' and Paul's ministries in the New Testament, Stiles does a good job of putting some of the usually considered difficult aspects of sharing our faith with others into perspective. He shows us by doing so, we come to realize that many of our self-perceived obstacles to sharing our faith or merely "in our head."

Overall, I would say that the message of "Speaking of Jesus" is that just as Jesus engaged the world (he listened to people's cares and concerns, and learned about their lifestyle), so should we. For Stiles, being one who shares their faith through engaging the world is one who is motivated (wants to share their faith), available (open to divine appointments and talking with others about their faith) and equipped (knows enough about the bible and the tenets of their faith in order to share with others and answer as many questions that arise as possible). Stiles argues that in order for us as Christians to effectively share our faith with those outside the church walls, we must take initiative to learn about people's lives outside the church walls. This by no means suggest that we become nosy or become so concerned with leaning about people's lives that we 1) water down the gospel or 2) put ourselves in situations where we will be tempted to sin. What this does suggest, however, is that we as Christians must do our part because as the saying goes, "people want to o=know that you care before they care for what you know."

One of the things Stiles warns us about is about a particular type of positive thinking. The type of positive thinking that can get us into trouble is the type that claims that we have a positive outlook on things because we belief in our own ability to bring our the desired outcome (in this case, effectively share our faith). According to Stiles, this type of positive thinking is problematic because it suggests that we are the ones making things happen, and not God working through us. Stiles urges us instead to have a type of positive thinking that stems from our confidence that God will always make a way, and is the true driving force behind all that we do that is considered of any worth.

Before I conclude, I wanted to briefly mention one of the stories he recalled about an atheist who came to Christ, and how God uses who we wants, when He wants, and how He wants to bring about His will. This powerful example of divine appointment continues to amaze me to this day. One day the atheist was hitch-hiking and was able to flag down a car. Once he got in the car, he was surprised that the driver was a Christian with a hippie steez. During their conversation they both shared their views. Either some days or some weeks later, the atheist was hitch-hiking again, and again succeeds in flagging down a car. To his surprise it was the same Christian hippie! When the driver pulled over, he told the atheist that man, "God must be after you!" Shortly after that encounter, the atheist gave his life to Christ.

Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

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