I Hate Witnessing, Part II
"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."1
On one occasion I had the opportunity to speak to some 300 students in chapel at a theological seminary. Most, if not all of the students, were training for some form of Christian ministry. The first thing I said when I went to the podium was, "The title of my message today is, 'I Hate Witnessing.'" The silence was deafening and if looks could kill...! After a brief pause I then said, "And I bet most of you do too!" Some snickers came from the students. Then I asked, "Well how many of you love to witness, find it easy, and do it regularly?" A whole three hands were raised! Then there was much laughter!
Whenever I have asked groups of people how many don't like to witness and are afraid to do it, most hands are raised. Then there seems to be a great sigh of relief from the audience when they realize that they are not alone in their struggle with witnessing for Christ.
One reason I believe so many of us have problems with witnessing is because most of us are taught to witness by teachers who have the gift of personal evangelism, and they teach us to witness the way they do as if we had the same gifting. That can be like training a person who is tone deaf to sing. That can be impossible, frustrating, and guilt-producing! Plus, I don't know about you, but I was made to feel guilty if I weren't telling someone about Jesus much of the time.
Getting back to my prayer where I told God I hated witnessing and was quitting: I did add, "However, God, if you want to use me to spread the gospel, I'm available, but you'll have to do it through me because I'm too scared."
A few hours later I was sitting in a jumbo jet high over the Pacific reading Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth. I had a whole row of seats to myself and at one point in the journey a fellow passenger came and sat beside me, introduced himself, and asked what I was reading. After I told him it was a book about the return of Christ to earth, he asked me if I believed Christ would come again. I said I did, to which he replied, "Will you please tell me all about it?"
Now, I love witnessing like that!
I'm not saying this kind of thing happens all the time. It doesn't. But I think this particular incident happened because I was being honest with myself and with God, and to verify to me that God had heard my prayer and was already answering it.
The starting point with God always is being honest for, "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."2
(To be continued)
Suggested prayer, "Dear God, I want to be an effective witness for you. I'm also available, but ask you to do it through me because I, too, am afraid. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).
2. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).
NOTE: Today's message is adapted from the book, I Hate Witnessing (A Handbook for Effective Christian Communications) by yours truly. See http://tinyurl.com/33kfbk to obtain a copy.