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Witness – “The Shift from Fellowship to Hospitality”
“All authority is heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Many Christians are terrified at the thought of sharing their faith with other people. Many people outside of the Church think that evangelism or witnessing by Christians should be outlawed. How can we share our faith with others in a way that brings joy and fulfillment to us and does not anger or alienate others?
I grew up in a church where sharing our faith and inviting people to church was expected. I can remember by the time I was in the Second Grade being assigned to my blocks to go door to door inviting people to come to our church and talking to them about Jesus Christ. All through school, I invited my classmates and those I met in town to church. I especially invited anyone who was new to our community. When I was in seminary, I was dropped off on the University of Kentucky campus early on a Saturday morning and told that I would be picked up that night. I was to walk the campus sharing my faith with everyone that I met. One night, we were dropped off at Lexington’s downtown bus station and told to go down the alleys and streets sharing our faith. I understand the thought of doing any of the above mentioned things brings terror to many people in the church. Is this what God expects from us when we agree to witness?
As I have talked to people who have been turned off by some Christian’s approach to evangelism, I have discovered that asking someone, “If you died today do you know if you would go to heaven?” has not always been well received. I do not think that those people were rejecting God or our faith as much as they were rejecting our approach, attitude and the words we chose to use.
Jesus, in the Great Commission, calls all of us to be evangelist. Surely Jesus would not have expected that from us if it had to be so hard or had to require so much time in practice and training before we could do it. Surely Jesus did not send out his disciples for the purpose of aggravating people. Maybe we have tried to take something that was intended to be a natural outgrowth of our relationship with God and turned it into something that has become offensive to some people who Jesus sent us to serve.
This Sunday we are going to hear Jesus tell the story about two men who prayed. One was a Pharisee and the other was a sinner. The Pharisee thought that he was holy. The sinner was fully aware of what was not holy in his life. Jesus said that the sinner went away from his prayer justified.
I hope that you will be with us in worship this Sunday as we focus on sharing our faith with others in a manner that does not terrify us nor alienate others.