You are like people who don’t know Jesus
Maybe that title seems very strange to you. After all, your life has been totally changed by Jesus Christ. Doesn’t the Bible say you have been brought out of the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s dear Son? Haven’t you been born again into a new way of life? If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!
Yes, all that is so true. Nobody could ever measure the transformation God accomplishes in the life of someone who is born again.
But does that mean that there are no points of connection between you and the person in your life who still needs to encounter the living Jesus? No, your story and their story actually have many points of overlap. It is these points of overlap that pave the way for you to introduce Christ to them!
Think about the things you have in common with your secular friends, coworkers, and neighbours:
You both know what life is like without Christ
If you have been walking with God for long, you know the amazing way that God weaves our lives together to put us in just the place he wants us at just the right time. So don’t you think that when God wants to reach out to someone and reveal himself to them and invite them to receive his amazing grace, he weaves their lives together with a believer who can connect with what they are experiencing of life without God?
My own life without God was filled with the deepest loneliness and hopelessness. I felt unloved and unlovable, so I tried to suck love out of every relationship and ended up with no good relationships. But when I encountered the living Jesus and his love for me, his love filled up all my love needs and enabled me to be a giver of love, not just a taker of it. My whole life changed.
Well, I’ve found that God wants to connect my life without Christ with the experience of people he brings my way.
You both still have questions
Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you have it all figured out. You should never feel like you have to portray yourself as a know-it-all just because you are a Christian. You still struggle with some big questions about God and life, probably similar questions to some of those your lost friends are asking. Don’t hide it—be open about it.
You both find life empty and meaningless if God is not at the centre of it
Until you are glorified and leave this fallen world behind, you still have a sin-nature that misses being your master. That sinful nature is the part of you that is always calling you to focus on yourself rather than God. It wants you to do what feels good now, rather than thinking of the impact on others and on your own spiritual life and relationship with God.
When you allow your sin-nature to put self at the centre of your life and push Jesus to just the religious parts of your life, then you once again experience life in your own power, life without God’s purpose and calling and ministry working in and through you. You start to wonder if your life really has meaning, whether God really loves you, if prayer makes any difference.
Let that terrible experience of the grossness of life without the nearness of God help you identify with what the person you are trying to reach is going through.
You both experience the pain of life in this fallen world
What man or woman of God in the Bible had an easy life? Not Abraham, not Job, not Moses, not Joseph, not David, not Samuel, not Esther, not Ruth, not Jeremiah, not Jesus, not Paul, not Peter, not John. Not you. So where are you getting the idea that if you have faith and are pleasing to God he will make your life easy, happy and painless?
If you portray your life that way, as always happy and easy, to the people around you who don’t know Jesus, you will never connect with them! What they are looking for is what is real, and reality is that Christians experience all the pain of life in this fallen world, because God has not yet destroyed it and made all things new. The difference of the Christian life is not that we escape the pain, but that God is in the middle of it with us! That he is encouraging us, loving us, answering prayer, giving us hope, using us in the middle of our pain to minister to those around us, drawing us near to him…in the middle of the pain!
Sometimes God wants to reveal himself by answering our “get me out of this” prayers and sometimes he wants to reveal himself by showing that even in the midst of pain he can bring comfort and joy. Joy while in the pain shouts the reality of Christ to a world that cannot comprehend that.
Look for the overlap between your story and theirs
One thing you know for sure is that no matter how a person presents themselves to others, on the inside their life is broken without God’s life flowing into them. You also know that God has put you into this person’s life to help them see their need for him. So start looking for the connections between your story and theirs!
How are you going to find those connections? By asking questions! When you can’t see any chinks in a person’s armour, when their “everything’s great” act is masking their brokenness, when you can’t tell what in your life connects with their need for God, that’s when you start asking them about their life. You love them and want to share Christ with them, so help them open up. If you take a genuine interest in someone they will usually open up and share with you.
Keep asking questions and talking about life until you find the point where your story connects with theirs. Then lovingly ask if you can share with them how God has met you at that point in your life that connects with theirs. That’s when witnessing stops being a project and starts being real.
Lifestyle Priority 6: Find connecting points between the gospel and the person I am trying to reach