“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
A pastor friend of mine recently posted the following thought on Facebook: “By all means preach the gospel far and wide. But please, start by preaching it near and deep inside.” I found his mischievous and pointed exhortation to be revealing about the manner in which many Christians “evangelise” their unsaved friends. Even though most of such interactions are well-intentioned, they often come across as awkward and unnatural. Since we don’t like feeling this way, and if there is no discernible result, we soon stop sharing the gospel with anybody. As a natural consequence we feel guilty for not putting more effort into obeying Jesus’ final command.
The Bible never said that we can only become an effective witness for Christ by memorising a gospel presentation or attending an apologetics seminar. Rather, we are promised that the Holy Spirit working in us will enable a powerful, authentic and irresistible witness. But what does this mean, and what does it look like? May I venture three characteristics:
First, the child of God has a visibly peaceful demeanour. He or she is not short tempered, impatient or fearful, because the Holy Spirit in him or her is a constant, friendly and comforting presence.
Second, the child of God is used to hearing His voice. He or she has heard it many times before in the familiar words of Scripture, or in the wise counsel of other Christians, or as a still, small voice in his or her God-tutored heart.
Third, the child of God sees every need in every person around as a God-appointed and special opportunity to show people the pearl of great price i.e. the saving gospel of Jesus. Meeting these needs with prayer or practical help opens the door to a greater work of God in a person’s life.
When we walk with God daily and are used to His prompting throughout the day, then we will find ourselves meeting the people that He intends, having the courage to have true conversations, showing extraordinary and sacrificial love for them, and speaking the words that He puts in our mouths.
The most effective witnesses for Christ do not wait for people to invite them to share the gospel. Instead they obey the Great Commission by wisely and effectively doing what needs to be done, or saying what needs to be said at opportune moments as led by the Holy Spirit of God. Such a witness has gravitas and a vivid persuasive power.
May we be continually shaped by the gospel in a way that works “inside us and out”, so that we may become more faithful and more effective testimonies for God.
By Aaron Lee, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 20&21 April 2013)