I’ve always been that person who never talked about my faith to others. Well, not quite never. I grew up with parents who loved Jesus, I regularly had lengthy discussions about faith with my family, went to church weekly, and had meaningful conversations about faith at camp. But those conversations were always with other believers, with people I knew believed the same things I did. It was safe. Outside of Christian circles, I excelled at keeping my faith a secret. When telling others what I did on Sunday, I didn’t say I went to church, but that I saw some friends. For years, I’m quite sure that many of my friends didn’t know I was a Christian. Until recently.
Last year, Alastair preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit and he mentioned that one small thing we can do is be open to others about the fact that we go to church on Sundays when they ask about our weekend. I felt a tug in my heart. God knew I needed to hear that.
Even before hearing that sermon, it had been on my heart to stop fearing what others think of me and to be open about my faith. I don’t want to excel at hiding the most peace-giving and life-changing part of me anymore. Much of my experience in our culture has been with people who are antagonistic to Christianity, who brush it off, who make fun of it, and who misunderstand it. All too often I’ve found myself nodding along kindly as I listen to someone complain or rant, too scared to tell them that the very things they misunderstand are the very things that bring hope, peace, joy, and real change to my life and the lives of so many others. God is showing me that by hiding, I am missing opportunities that could lead someone else down the road to discovering the life-changing knowledge of God’s love.
During the service that day last year, I asked for prayer that God would help me be real with others about my faith. He didn’t waste any time! The very next day I was with a friend and she was talking about wanting to meet that someone special, but not knowing where to look. I jokingly mentioned she could meet a great guy at church. It just came out in the moment. She knew I went to church and she asked me about it. The next thing I knew I invited her to come to church and our community group. I had never invited a non believer to church before. The conversation was spontaneous, natural, and brief. She ended up coming to our community group one night, and then attending a service about six months later. The Holy Spirit was indeed at work giving me courage, because the same day we had that conversation, the person who prayed for me at church was also praying that I’d have an opportunity to share with someone. I just didn’t know it at the time! Since then, my friend and I have had a few more conversations about faith, and what we each believe. I don’t know when or if she’ll come to know Jesus, but maybe a seed was planted because I pushed past my fear.
This is not about trying to change others or change their minds. It’s about sharing the truth about God’s love, and not burying the hope and freedom I have found as I invite Jesus to change me.
Since then, I have started mentioning that I go to church when it comes up. A conversation does not always stem from it. But I’m not hiding in fear anymore. I still have growing to do, but isn’t it encouraging that God works in our weakness? But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). The more time I spend reading the Bible, talking to God, and delighting in him, the less I fear what others may think. Christ has come to give us abundant life, and who am I to hide that from others?
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b)
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).