My Neighbour Wants to Know How to Share Jesus With A Family Member 1 Peter 3:13-16; 1 Corinthians 3:6-10
5/15/2019 1:10:55 AM
May 12, 2019
Rev. David Williams
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-16; 1 Corinthians 3:6-10
Back in 2007, James Choung, a staff worker with InterVarsity, was asked to explain Christianity in 3 minutes or less. This video was his response. I think he did a fantastic job!
I wanted to share this video with all of you because it’s a simple summary of what we believe, and I know a number of you have people in your life with whom you hope to share the gospel.
We are continuing our series “My Neighbour Wants to Know….” but today’s questions are more about sharing Jesus with a neighbour rather than questions those neighbours have.
Two different people submitted questions about sharing Jesus with loved ones. The first question says, “My daughter is seeking the Lord, how do I speak to her and not drive her away?” Second, “Why God doesn’t answer prayers to save a loved one (person then uses that as an excuse not to believe)?” I’m not sure who is using this as an excuse not to believe, the person doing the praying or the person being prayed for. I will address both cases.
The principles we are talking about today are useful for all of us. However, when it’s a family member we are sharing with, it tends to be loaded. So we will consider this too.
The Bible never specifically talks about how to share with loved ones. In fact, the Bible never lays out a “how to” on sharing the good news of Jesus! If it did, those “how to’s” would be specific to a certain culture at a certain time. How we share Jesus is going to be different for us than for people in another land, or another time. We are going to look at some of these principles today and see how we can present the gospel in our culture today.
What does it mean to share the gospel? What happens when people come to know Jesus? These questions are important because they form the big picture, the framework within which we operate. Literally, evangelism means sharing the good news of Jesus. But there’s more to it than that. When we speak of evangelism, we tend to include the idea of successfully sharing the good news. We speak of people “coming to the Lord.” We speak of God saving people, etc. So what is it that we are talking about?
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is talking about how the church in Corinth had been founded and grown. The Corinthians themselves were divided among themselves over who had brought them to Christ. Some were of the “Paul party” and others were of the “Apollos party” (Apollos was another dynamic Christian missionary who’d spent time in Corinth). Paul is pointing out that he and Apollos are just workers serving under God. God is the one who’s done all the work bringing them to Christ!. Paul describes a process of growth. He speaks of planting seeds and watering- a farming example. To this we can add the preliminary step of clearing rubble. It is helpful to put these on a scale from 1 to 50, which means at 50 a person comes to faith in Christ.
Evangelism is cooperating with the Holy Spirit to help people take steps towards faith in Christ; helping people move along this range from 1 to 50. Take note of some key elements- First- that it is the Holy Spirit who is the prime mover – it is God who brings people to salvation, not us! Second, the Spirit chooses to use people as tools in this process. Thus we are to cooperate with the Spirit. Evangelism means helping people take steps along
the way, not just bringing people to 50, the point of conversion. Helping a person move from 1 to 3 is just as much evangelism as “harvesting” from 47-50.
We don’t save people, God does. This is important on many levels. First, it relieves us of the terrible burden of responsibility to “save souls.” It removes the burden of “convincing” people. It gives us perspective. It reminds us that God is at work, in his own way, in his own timing.
It keeps us humble. We didn’t “choose” God when we were saved, God chose us and we responded. In the same way, if we are blessed to have a ministry of “harvesting” people, helping people take those final steps to 50, this reminds us that it was God at work the whole time and many other people before us!
Our role is to be ready, willing and able to cooperate with the Spirit to help people take steps as the Spirit asks. What does it mean to be ready, willing and able? This is what Peter is talking about in his letter. Peter was writing to Christians experiencing persecution and suffering for their faith in Jesus. In this context of a society hostile to faith, Peter’s advice is to be good, to live as good people
Sometimes we face hostility to faith as well, even from our own families. In all actuality, we are more likely to find family members hostile to our conversion than strangers or acquaintances. Why? Because our relationships with family are closer, more complicated and more charged than any other relationships we have. We care more about family members, so our disagreements about important subjects are more likely to be charged.
We may face hostility when we share the gospel, especially with family. Like Peter’s readers in the first century, the most effective response is to respond with overwhelming kindness, generosity and goodness. Even if it means we “suffer” for Jesus, suffer insults, false accusations, the cold shoulder, we know that ultimately we will be vindicated by God in the Day of Judgment. God will reward us, repay us, make it up to us when we suffer for his sake!
The radically counter-cultural response this hostility for a Christian is love- that divine, self-giving love primarily concerned with the well-being of others, in particular their spiritual well-being.
Our duty is to always be prepared to give a reason for our hope. Think about that for a moment- as believers, our hope should be so obvious to other people that they actually ask about it! Our response of love, our kindness, needs to cause people to ask questions. Do you have hope? Do you know your hope in Jesus? That’s how we endure persecution. That’s how we have patience when a family member has not come to Christ.
The video we watched at the beginning is a good summary of the hope we have in Christ. That’s a good place to start.
Accepting the Lordship of Jesus means always being willing to speak up for him, confess our allegiance to him and tell of his saving grace. If Jesus is our Lord, then we must speak about his salvation of his people and that at the end of history his salvation will be shown to the world. This hope for Jesus’ vindication at the end of time sustains us as believers through difficult times, it gives us hope and joy at all times, in spite of circumstances.
As we present our hope, we are to do it humbly, gently and respectfully. Like responding with love when we face persecution, when we present our hope in Christ, we are to do it in a winsome way. We are to do it not with pride, or lording it over “sinners” but humbly acknowledging our own brokenness and need for a saviour. The love Jesus has shown us is to show through us to those we speak to about Jesus.
Know what you believe. Know what you’ve experienced. What does this mean? It means learning what the content of our hope is. Read the Bible, read books, watch videos, join small groups, etc. Learn what our hope is about. It also means consistently living out our faith. You can’t be surly and grumpy for a year, then, when a friend asks about Jesus, brighten up and try to be nice so you can share Jesus with them.
Be prepared to share your own story. Notice, we are to always be ready to give an answer for the hope within us! Not just the hope “they” have. We are not just to share what we’ve read in books or seen in videos. Learning from these things is important especially because it helps give us words for what has happened to us, it helps us make sense of our story, but they cannot replace our story.
What has Jesus done for you? What is your hope on the Day of Judgment? My hope is that when my sin is laid out for all to see, that Jesus will step forward and say, “He’s with me. It is forgiven.”
So what are we to do with all this? Maybe you have a family member, or a friend who doesn’t know Jesus. How do you share with them without pushing them away? What is you’ve prayed for a loved one and they’ve
not come to the Lord? What does that mean?
Always remember who does the saving. It is the Holy Spirit that brings people to saving faith. It is God who draws people to himself. Never forget that! You can trust God to work in people’s hearts and to do a better job at it than you or I can do!
This is especially true when we’re talking about family. Our passion, our love and affection for a family member can inspire us, but it can also make us frantic, frustrated and foolhardy. In our zeal for our family member, we can try to force God’s hand, we can rush ahead of God, we can push when God is asking us to wait. So remember that your loved one is in God’s hands.
Commit your loved one to God in prayer. It is God’s work to draw them. Pray that God would intervene in their lives. Commit to cooperating with the Spirit to do any work God asks you to do, but no more than what God asks you to do! Very likely, it will be somebody else, somebody whose relationship is NOT charged, who will bring your loved one to the point of harvesting. But along the way, you will have planted seed, perhaps watered, maybe just cleared away rubble. Lee Strobel’s wife came to Christ first. He was hostile! It was many other scholars who showed Lee the evidence for Jesus. But along the way, his wife just became more and more loving, more and more like Jesus, and that played a subtle role in his conversion. She prayed for him faithfully, daily.
God does not do violence to our will. As you pray for someone to come to Christ, realize that God’s plan and procedure is to win them over. He “woos” them to himself, he does not turn them violently or against their will. It’s not likely that you will see the person converted immediately. If you pray for a person to be saved, even a loved one, and they’re not immediately saved, remember that God answers prayers 3 different ways- yes, no and not yet. God may have plans for them that span decades, not days.
Sometimes we experience division with family over Jesus. Jesus warned us that because of him families will be divided, father vs son, mother vs daughter, etc. He also said that our loyalty needs to be to him over family. So if your loved one doesn’t immediately come to the Lord, that is no excuse for you to stop believing!
Similarly, if you pray for a loved one and they don’t come to Christ, that’s not an excuse for them not to believe either. Share with them that God may be working on them over time, that God will not do violence to their will! God’s timing in answering prayer is no reason for them to not believe. Maybe you’ll help them to move from 20-25!
Hold them up in the light of God’s grace, asking him to do that which only he can do. Let us pray together.. First, picture your reach one person, your family member, that neighbour or friend you’re willing to commit to praying for regularly and cooperating with the Spirit to help them take steps towards faith in Christ, moving down the line, getting closer to 50.
Father in heaven, we hold this person up in the light of your grace. We ask that you would do in them that which only you can do. We commit to cooperating with the Spirit to help them take steps towards faith in Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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