Growing up in the church I had this idea that if I acted like Christ, the best that I could, then people would walk up and ask me about Jesus. It was one of the main messages I heard every Sunday from the kid’s class. If I acted enough like Christ, in His kindness, generosity, and gentleness, then someone would approach me. We were told that they would ask why I was being so nice and then we could tell them about Jesus. It was a guaranteed Gospel strategy; to be noticed and asked. The white WWJD wristband didn’t hurt these efforts either as it too could spark conversation. Time and time again, in every Sunday school class and church I attended during my childhood, this message continued to pop up.
What a surprise it was when I was never happened.
As a kid, I was never asked by a non-Christian why I was so nice. No one even asked me about my cool WWJD wristband. How confusing for the kid trying to do what he thinks Christ wants him to do? Why didn’t anyone come up to me and ask so that I could share Jesus with them?
It certainly wasn’t for a lack of good behavior as even some of my classmates would tease me by calling me a “goody two-shoes”. It wasn’t because what I was trying to do was unbiblical. There are a plethora of passages calling Christians to reflect God’s character that other may see and know Him.
Matt 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Scripture speaks to our actions being a testimony for Christ. So why then was no one asking me about Christ? Why wasn’t I getting to share Jesus after picking up trash or saying something nice to my teacher or sharing my food with a classmate? What happened to this guaranteed Gospel strategy I learned?
This dilemma is alive in both childhood and adulthood. When some adults are asked about the last time they shared the Gospel, they dive into a story of brining their neighbor cookies. As they describe how thankful their neighbor was, I am left searching for when Jesus was mentioned in the conversation. Rather than hearing a story of sharing the Gospel, I get a story of sharing cookies.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love cookies. I wish people would share cookies with me more often. But sharing cookies is not the same as sharing the Gospel. These ‘Gospel cookies’ don’t say anything about Jesus by themselves. It can certainly be a first step. It can certainly be a way to build friendship, so that eventually the Good News is shared in a genuine and caring relationship. Sharing cookies, however, cannot be the only thing we do expecting that our neighbor will ask about Christ because the chocolate chips tasted heavenly.
As Christians we must be intentional in what we do and what we say, taking opportunities to share Christ. How we act is absolutely important. If our actions contradict the message of Christ’s love, then no one will listen. But my childhood strategy, to wait for someone to notice and ask, is not enough. It’s not enough because there are plenty of non-Christians that act just as kind, if not better, than a lot of Christians. Our actions do not always set us apart. It’s also not enough because God didn’t call His followers to act like gravestones. I am not to be some motionless monument that someone may notice, stop to read, see that I did some honorable deeds, and be left alone to ask why. Waiting to be noticed and asked is not enough.
Earlier this week I heard someone say, “We are not a ‘Build it and they will come’ ministry. If we build, sit back, and wait, little will come to fruition. We are not a ‘build it and they will come’ ministry, we are a ‘bring them and they will come’ ministry.” The Gospel is relational, its about community. We must bring people into the Gospel. I cannot wait for someone to come to me and ask about Christ, I must bring Christ to them. Christ was relational with those around Him. He engaged them. Sometimes He got to know them and other times He didn’t. No matter the situation though, He met people where they were at in life and was intentional about sharing the Kingdom of God.
I cannot simply bake cookies and hope that someone will ask about Jesus. I must share the cookies and the Gospel. Good News is worth sharing! We don’t shove it down someone’s throat, we don’t force it on anyone. When we get good news, we share it with an open hand giving the listener to chance to take it. But we share it, we don’t hide it in our pockets waiting to be asked, we share exciting and joyous news when we get it. Why would we treat The Good News any differently? As followers of Christ we cannot passively hold onto His message of love waiting for someone to notice and ask. We must actively bring the Gospel to them, in both deed and word, and they will come to Christ. If we bring it, they will come.
Romans 10:13-14, “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”