The time me and Jordan went downtown and there was this homeless guy in the wheelchair and he yelled at me.
My wife’s favorite movie is wizard of oz, well awhile back, they did a remastered showing of the wizard of Oz at Century 14 Down. So we knew we had to go. And there was a showing on a Friday evening so we headed down there and parked in the parking structure and began to walk towards the theatre. By this time it was completely dark outside. And to make matters worse, it was pouring rain. And when you’re walking from the parking structure to the theater there’s this overhang that you can walk under to cover yourself from the rain, so we were walking and we came upon, what appeared to be a homeless man in a wheelchair and he was in the middle of the street in the pouring rain, clearly have a hard time operating his wheelchair.
So I feel incredibly bad for the guy, so I leave my wife under the overhang and I go to try and help wheel him out of the street and the pouring rain. Well write when I get up to within about 5 feet of him he SCREAMS at the top of his lounges, “DON’T YOU TOUCH ME!” “STAY AWAY FROM ME!!” I am frozen. Everyone around can clearly hear this man yelling and they’re all turned to watch this confrontation. And so I said “Ok, ok, I’m sorry I’m sorry. Can I at least buy you some food?” “I DON’T WANT ANYTHING FROM YOU!!!” And at this point I just walk back to the sidewalk, shocked at what just happened.
I think sharing our faith can feel a little bit like that. That we’ve convinced ourselves that the people of the world have absolutely zero interest in what we might have to say.
But sharing our faith is part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. So it’s time for us to learn to do this better.
This morning: Practical. HOW do you share your faith? – We’ve talked about the fact that we SHOULD share our faith, and we even spent some time getting clear on what message IS, but in a real practical sense, HOW do we do it.
If you don’t want to You can get all the practical advise in the world, but at the end of the day, if you don’t want to, or you don’t care that much about it, you won’t. So this advice is for the people who WANT to share their Christian faith but need some practical help on how.
Temperament: People will say “I don’t have the right temperament to share my faith. I’m too ” There’s honestly no one personality that I think makes them good at this.
- On one side you have people who would never share their faith because they’re too shy and self-conscious.
- On the other side you have people who have no problem telling people what they think, but they don’t do it gently with humility, so they turn people away.
None of us are going to be at this unless you let Jesus help you. So what we’re going to do this morning is we’re gonna go to a bible story that has some great practical application for us on how to share our faith.
John 4:27-30 / 39-42
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” (John 4:27)
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, (John 4:28)
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)
They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:30)
Now jump to vs 39
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:39)
So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. (John 4:40)
And because of his words many more became believers. (John 4:41)
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)
In John 4, Jesus meets a woman in Samaria at the well at noon, she was coming for water. And Jesus has a conversation with her and he reveals himself to be the messiah. This brings about a huge life change for this woman and the 2nd half of the chapter, we see what she does.
It’s all summed up in one word that we read in v 39 – ‘Testimony’
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, (John 4:39a)
The word testimony means to give a first-hand account. So if you think of someone in a courtroom giving a testimony, what they’re giving is a first hand account.
So we’re gonna talk about WHAT she said, and then HOW she said it.
WHAT did she say?
Subjective / Objective
Something subjective (something that happened to her) and something objective (something that she believes is true for everybody).
First something subjective. Something that happened to her.
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” – John 4:29
The very fact that Jesus was talking to this woman was deeply scandalous.
Samaritan / Woman / Outcast Jews and samaritans hated each other. And in this patriarchal society, there was a pecking order, and men did not normally talk to women in public. Also, she was at the bottom of the social ladder.
And yet, he ignores all those social barriers, and has a deeply personal conversation with this woman. And she says “Come, see this guy who talked to me about me.”
She knew almost nothing about Jesus Yet, all she’s had was in encounter with Jesus. She doesn’t have all her theology right, she likely doesn’t know about heaven, or communion, or baptism, or how Harry Potter is of the devil. All she has is an experience with Jesus. And what she’s sharing is simply her story. Her first hand account.
Next objective (true for everyone)
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” – John 4:42
Savior of the World At first they didn’t believe what she said, but now they do, which is that Jesus is the savior of the world. So here she’s saying something that’s not just true for her, but it’s something that’s true for everyone. She doesn’t come and say “Well, this is true for me, but it might not be true for you. You’re gonna have to find your own truth.” – No, she says Jesus is the savior, not just of me, but of the whole world.
HOW did she say it?
Not just what she talks about, but HOW she talks about it.
Her testimony contained 3 things:
1. Disarming Honesty
Notice how she does it. She doesn’t preach a sermon, she doesn’t have a powerpoint presentation. She went to people and said ‘Here’s what happened to me.’ That’s what a testimony is.
Both comforting and challenging
- Comforting: If Jesus has changed your life – all you have to do share your faith is tell people what happened to you.
- Challenging: If Jesus has changed your life – the only way to NOT share your faith is to hide who you really are.
If Jesus is the center of your life, then Jesus is the way you fix your problems. Jesus is the way you make your decisions. Jesus is the way you develop your priorities. As you get closer to people, you naturally become more and more transparent.
EX I have probably 4 friends who I share, not everything, but almost everything about me. Things about my fear, my anxieties, my struggles. – They know the good and the bad about me.
If you’re a Christian, the only way your friends won’t know that is if you hide who you are. But for this woman, she didn’t have all the answers, she was just honest and transparent in what had happened to her.
2. Jesus Simplicity
One reason sharing our faith is hard for lots of people is that we know too much. This woman knew hardly anything, and because she knew hardly anything, she got it right.
“Just come see a man.” – That’s the gospel. The gospel in 1 word: Jesus. “Let’s go read about Jesus. Let’s talk about Jesus.”
Christianity is the only religion that is all about their founder.
Christianity is all about Jesus. And Christianity by the way is the only religion that can talk like that about their founder.
- Buddism can’t say ‘Buddism is all about Buddha’.
- Islam can’t say that Islam is all about Muhammed.
No the other religions are about ‘the way’. But Jesus in John 14 says ‘I AM the way.
3. Amazing Bravery
Remember something: Jesus met this woman drawing water, she’s alone and it’s noon. Normally the women all went together in the morning to get water. Because they needed water for day. Cleaning, cooking, washing clothes. So you’d go in the morning b/c you needed water all day.
Outcast Bible scholars will all tell us that the reason this woman comes to get water at noon, when it’s incredibly hot, is b/c she’s an outcast. She was at the bottom of the social ladder.
So when she runs back into town and starts telling people “Come see a man!!” – She knows that odds are that they won’t listen. Why would they listen to her? Talk to US about spiritual stuff? But she went anyway. Even knowing it might make her social standing worse.
Professional context A lot of people, especially in the professional context, if your colleagues knew what you believe they would be surprised and maybe even disappointed in you. They would say “I didn’t know anyone with more than a 5th grade education believed that stuff. And in some cases, it could hurt your social standing. But this woman did it. And we’re called to do it too.
“Testimony” in greek, “Marturia” = Maryr The word testimony is this greek word “Marturia” which is where we get our word “Martyr”. How did a word that originally meant to share your story come to mean someone who got killed? Think it through.
If Christians really do share their faith, they will encounter opposition.
Basic belief – culture today. – Wrong.
The basic belief of the culture today: You should never believe that you have the truth. If you believe you have the truth and other people don’t have it. You’ve created a binary. And ONE and ZERO system where it’s either black or white. You can’t go to someone and say ‘I have a truth about God and you should come over to my side’!! How horrible! we’re told. It’s wrong emotionally and it’s wrong logically.
Family Member – Alzheimers
Let’s say you have a relative with Alzheimer’s. And they try this new experimental treatment and it has incredible positive effects, to the point of being nearly cured. What’s the family going to do? The family is going to say “This is incredible! Put us on commercials, put us on the radio. We want the whole world to know about this miracle cure.”
What will you think about that family?
We you might think they’re right about the treatment, you might think they’re wrong about the treatment. But you not gonna say they’re being closed minded. That’s nonsense. You would understand why they’re wanting to shout their message from the rooftops. B/C it helped them and they want it to help other people.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with ‘Penn Jillette’ from the comedy duo Penn and Teller. He’s the tall one who does all the talking. Well, he’s also a pretty well-known atheist.
And one thing he says that really struck me was that he doesn’t respect Christians who don’t share their faith. He says ‘If you honestly believe you have a cure for a persons soul, I mean, how selfish do you have to be to not tell them about it.’ I mean if you believe in eternal life and that you have it, and someone else doesn’t. How can you not tell them?
If someone is standing on the train tracks and a train is coming and they don’t see it. And now let’s say I tell you that a train is coming and you don’t believe me, well there’s a certain point that I’d tackle you. And the Christian would say this is much more important than that. So he says if you don’t share your faith with me, either you don’t love me, or you don’t actually believe what you say you believe. Which is a REALLY good point.
So for someone to say “You should never say that you have the truth and someone else doesn’t” just doesn’t check out emotionally. That’s not how the heart works.
Postmodern: ‘Truth claims dangerous!’ IS a truth claim.
Our postmodern tendency is to say ‘Quit making Absolute Truth claims! Absolute Truth claims are bad and they hurt people and they’re dangerous. Stop saying you’re right and we’re wrong. Let everyone believe what they believe.’ To which we would say ‘That’s an Absolute Truth claim.’
Two types – people – world. There two types of people in the world, people who believe in Absolute Truth and people who believe in Absolute Truth but don’t know it. “There is no Absolute Truth.” IS an Absolute Truth claim. There’s no way to stop making Absolute Truth claims. There’s no way to stop making right and wrong, binary statements.
The real question is this: Who’s Absolute Truth claims cause them to be more loving towards people they disagree with? Now that’s an interesting question. Tolerance isn’t about having no beliefs, tolerance is about how you treat the people you disagree with.
But to say ‘You should stop saying I’m right and you’re wrong.’ – That’s not the answer. The answer is to share your story in a non-condescending, non-confrontational, kind way, like this woman did.
Evangelism Baby Steps
Pastor – built in.
One thing that’s interesting about being a pastor is we kinda have these steps built in for us. Someone will come up and say “What do you do?” And I say “I’m a pastor.” And they say ‘OH!!!” (Crying voice) “Yeah man, my life has been really tough lately… etc”
And so there’s a certain amount of spiritual talk that’s built into occupational ministry.
So it’s important for people like me to remember that that’s not the way it is for most of you. Like let’s say you work at Best Buy and you’re supposed to somehow bring up Jesus to your friend at work? How the heck.
Well I think you can actually mimic the build in opportunities that pastors have pretty easily. By doing something like what we’re about to go over.
1. Pray for opportunities
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. (Colossians 4:3)
We need to believe that God is already working in people’s hearts and so we need him to lead us to those people.
Sometimes people will come up to me after a message and say ‘How did you know? What you were talking about is exactly what I’m going through. How did you know?” – The answer of course is, I didn’t and still don’t know. That’s just how God works.
2. Let other people know you go to Church.
That’s it. If you can’t do that, you’re not gonna be able to do anything else, so start here. This is the baby-est step I can imagine. It’s important, and sometimes it enough to get a conversation going.
Maybe you mention the fact that you go to church to 4 people, and then a little time passes and one of them comes back and asks you about it.
3. Let people know your Christian faith has helped you.
Maybe you’re a married woman and you’re talking to another women who’s angry at her husband. ‘My faith has really helped me here.’ If she says ‘Really, how?’ – Then you’re in. If she doesn’t no big deal.
4. Ask a thought provoking question.
About their area of interest. Questions that get to fundamental issues of purpose.
Let’s say you’re talking to a doctor. Well you could say “What do love about being a doctor?” And let them respond. And then say “How do you give hope to someone who knows they’re going to die?” – And you might be amazed how that opens up a meaningful conversation about Jesus.
Concern: I don’t know what people will say.
Response: Of course you don’t!
Some people will say “You know, I think that’s true.” Other people will say “That’s one of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard and I hate you.” You need to be prepared for both answers.
Concern: People might ask me a question I don’t know.
Response: Of course they are!
They asked Jesus a question he didn’t know the answer to. “When are you coming back?” – “I don’t know. Only my father knows that.”
Concern: People might disagree with my point of view.
Response: Of course they will!!!
Parable of the sower – Where the sower sows the seed on different grounds, and only a small percentage actually grows into something. There will be disappointments. – John the Baptist – Trying to run the evangelism program in King Herod’s palace and got his head chopped off, which is disappointing.
As – close — Beginning story.
Jesus comes to her and says he has living water. Rest for her soul.
Now she was shocked that her was talking to her. B/C (1) he could see she was a woman, and (2) he could see she was a samaritan.
At least he doesn’t know I’ve had 5 husbands
And so I can picture her thinking “Well at least he doesn’t know I’ve had 5 husbands and the man I’m living with now isn’t my husband.” If he knew about my past, he’d be saying “I’m not gonna give you anything, you sicko!” – Or maybe, “Clean up your act, here’s my business card, call me when everything in your life has been fixed.”
- So she turns to him “Ok, give me your living water.”
- Jesus: “Cool, go get your husband and I’ll talk to you both.”
- And she goes “Uh oh.” – “I don’t have a husband.”
- Jesus: “You’re right about that, you’ve had 5 husbands and the man you’re living with now isn’t your husband.”
She’s shocked. He KNEW. But not only did he know right at that moment, he knew when he offered her the water in the first place. And it wasn’t a barrier. All she knows to do is to make one final attempt to change the subject. – She asks him this theological question about the right place for the temple. Jesus says “A time is coming and now is where you won’t need a temple.”
You don’t need all this religious junk and rituals. You can go right to God. – And do you know why that is? Because I’m about to die.
I AM HE.
She says “Well when the messiah comes, he can explain all this.” – And Jesus looks to her and says “I am he.” And that’s when she runs away. To tell everybody. When you see something beautiful, you have to tell people about it. Music, movie.
“Come see a man who saw everything I’ve ever done, and loved me anyway.” He knew everything I had done, and his offer was still ‘If you want me, you can have me.’ We all, each and every one of us, have the opportunity to take people to meet Jesus. It’s one of the great joys of being a Christian.
But the question is this:
Are you willing to risk embarrassment, shame, anger and even persecution for the possibility of introducing someone to the man who can change their life the way he’s changed yours?