After His resurrection and before His ascension into heaven, Jesus gathered His closest followers. He wanted to give them some important instruction. We often refer to His words as “The Great Commission.” He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). Jesus’ command contains the marching orders for the New Testament church. We are to be about the business of leading others into a relationship with God. Despite our Lord’s plain instruction, many churches and believers fail in this area. I believe there are four excuses which hurt us.
It doesn’t work.
Some don’t share their faith, because they believe that it is useless. They doubt that anyone will respond to the gospel message. I’ve felt this way before. However, experience has taught me that the life-transforming power of God doesn’t reside in the messenger. It abides in the message. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). When we speak the truth of Christ, supernatural, otherworldly power is unleashed into the souls of men and women.
People don’t want to hear.
Many are silent about Jesus because they assume others don’t want to hear about God. Contemporary culture’s emphasis on tolerance and inclusivity has increased this pressure. Sure, we want to be respectful of the ideas, preferences and opinions of others. But we shouldn’t assume that no one wants to hear about our faith. Statistics reveal that most Americans profess belief in God and that they are very interested in spiritual things. In addition, there are many people in our cities who will come to salvation if we will simply share (see Acts 18:10).
It’s too hard.
Some shy away from speaking about Christ because they feel that it is a task which requires an expert. Pastors, Deacons, theologians, and seminary professors are best equipped to speak of divine things. Such thinking is faulty. It assumes that the Christian religion is overly complex and too technical to explain. It overlooks the reality that Christianity is primarily about a relationship, not religion. One can talk about Jesus as if he or she is talking about a close friend. Memorized lines and canned sales pitches aren’t needed. To share the gospel, you only need to tell of your experience with Jesus (see Acts 4:13-19).
Living a good life is enough.
Lastly, some think that a compelling lifestyle is good enough. Being nice to co-workers and friendly to strangers will suffice. This perspective fails to see the importance of words in witnessing. Sure, our lifestyle is important. Jesus intends to use our transformed character and conduct to make an impression on others (see Matthew 5:16), but no one has every come to Christ without understanding the core concepts of the gospel. Such understanding requires explanation. We must speak or share truth in order for people to be saved. Each instance of the Great Commission uses verbiage which depicts God’s people teaching and proclaiming in order for others to understand the message of salvation (see Matthew 28:18-19, Mark 16:15, and Acts 1:8).
Dr. Patrick Latham