How comfortable are you with talking about your faith? Can you have a conversation about the Bible with your family or friends? Could you share a Christian point of view in front of your social club? Could you stand in front of your church and give a sermon? Could you debate your faith in the face of a skeptical and sometimes hostile gathering?
Without a doubt, some speaking situations are easier than others. The audience, the setting, topic and timing all play a part in our comfort level. As with any talent, the more we practice speaking about faith, the more confident we will feel about it. Reading the words that another Christian speaker and author wrote to his church one day reminds me of that. He wrote, “When I (first) came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you… about God. For I resolved to know nothing when I was with you except Jesus Christ and (how He was) crucified. I came to you with weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.”
This particular speaker and author is Paul. It’s fair to say that he went on to become a pretty big deal in the preaching and writing fields. These words are from his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 2:1-4 NIV). Let’s look closer at Paul’s words and compare our current selves to where he was at during his first visit to the gentiles of Greece.
Paul was probably as well-educated as anyone from his neck of the wood. He was a prominent Pharisee; a keeper of the law. When Paul says he “resolved to know nothing …except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” he was proclaiming that all his worldly education was moot. His life started over when he came to accept Jesus as his savior. In Corinth, Paul could preach only what he knew about Jesus Christ, how he came to accept Jesus as his savior, and whatever else the Holy Spirit put into his heart and mind.
We can do that! Thanks to the miracle of the Bible, we can know and share the story of Jesus. God’s words are right there in front of us to read and learn. We might say that Paul had an advantage of living in the time of Jesus. But quite frankly, between the Bible and Faith, this still is the time of Jesus!
We each have our own story of how we came to accept Jesus, too! The circumstances don’t matter. Whether we were young or old; whether we were raised in faith or saved in the wilderness; whether we accepted the Lord in a big public gathering or in a private moment, our salvation story is one of the same awesome grace that Paul encountered on the road to Damascus. We should want to share our joyous story with everybody!
All that’s left is for the Holy Spirit to put the words we need in our minds. Paul said “My message and preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” It’s easy to think that Paul was talking about miracles when he mentions the Spirit’s power. Surely, seeing lepers healed, the mute talk and the blind see bolstered Paul’s credibility among the Corinthians; but I don’t think that is what Paul was talking about. In Acts 10, Jesus told the apostles to hit the streets and trust that the Holy Spirit would deliver words to them when they needed help. While it is important to have a basic understanding of our faith and be somewhat familiar with parts of the Bible, I believe whenever we strive to teach about Jesus, the Holy Spirit is there to help us, too.
The Bible tells us to spread the Word of God. It’s not acceptable for us to decide we are not learned enough or social enough. Our insecurities are like Jonah’s fear and Moses’ stutter. God didn’t accept them as excuses either! When we were invited and decided to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were picked just like Paul, to be a “chosen instrument to carry (His) name before the gentiles, their kings and before all of Israel.” (Acts 9:15).
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. If we go on to read 1 Corinthians 2:4 and 2:5 together, we can see that God is not counting on us to be brilliant orators or great defenders of the faith. “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on the power of God.” What that says to me is that I need to worry only about doing my part. Raise the topics. Talk about my faith. Put Christian ideas and views in people’s minds. The Holy Spirit is here to help us with the conversation. After that, it is up to Jesus to change a man’s heart. It’s like a no-lose situation for us. All we have to do is spread the word. The heavy lifting is done by God. So why do we make it seem so scary?
Starting conversations about Him makes God smile as much as talking to Him. I know I want God to smile at me as much as possible. So let’s get out there and Spread the Faith!
It is quite human to want to practice a little first before speaking to strangers or gatherings. Maybe you could start out by attending Sunday school or informal Bible studies. You know that those groups are open to hearing your thoughts while you learn what others believe. Then try bringing the discussion home. Ask your spouse or a friend, “What do you think about…” and see what happens. You can also read Christian blogs and books to become more aware not only of what others think, but to reflect on how you feel about their thoughts as well. Talk about the pastor’s sermon after services; maybe on the car ride home. With all that practice, you’ll be ready when the time comes to discuss your faith and God with anyone, in any situation. Over time, I trust that you will enjoy it as much as I do.