My wife works in a book store. She has never announced to anyone that she´s a Christian. She´s never preached at anyone. She´s actually low key about her faith. Without saying it, people just seem to know. Still, she ends up having coworkers crying on her shoulder in the break room. They need to talk to her about their fear that God has abandoned them due to lifestyle. She has customers who don’t know anything about her asking “What am I seeing in you? What do you have?” And, since this is California, “Wow, what causes that aura I’m seeing!” That is the power of truly walking in the Spirit.
Sadly many of us don’t walk in the power of the Spirit as much as we conform to some sort of sticky sweet Christian lifestyle or rely on aggressive confrontation. Neither of these is particularly attractive to non-Christians. In fact, both probably do much more harm than good.
What is attractive, in general, is normal, honest, transparent people who are having a real encounter with God. Many non-Christians are hungry to see God at work in a life. But they want to see it long before they talk about it. They are not interested in conversations which are forced, steered or contrived to talk about religion. However, they are often attracted when there is just something about that life, an indefinable something, which speaks to their soul. We, of course know that the “something” is the presence of Jesus in control of our souls; and that can’t be faked by being nice or sweet. For him there is no substitute.
Here are four suggestions for making this kind or substantive contact.
Be in Real Contact with Non-Believers
I’m not taking about some sort of hit and run crusade. I’m talking about making real relationships, real friendships. Hit and run seldom works. Many Christians are totally isolated from people who need Jesus because their church activities and Christian sub-culture isolate them from the very people Jesus hung around with all the time. If we want to live a redemptive life, we need to be with people who need Jesus. Most of us find this, as does my wife, at work. Others find it at a club or social group. Do you like to fly model airplanes? There’s a chance to make friendships. What about getting breakfast in the same coffee shop every morning? Pretty soon you’ll be one of the regulars. Here’s a radical suggestion: start hanging around in a bar.
Be In Communication with the Spirit
Where should you hang out to make friends; work, a social group or a bar?” Why don’t you ask Jesus, instead of making a mere rational decision? Why don’t you pray until Jesus puts something on your heart? Maybe he’ll tell you to go feed a bunch of homeless teenagers under a bridge. Every city and town has them. But it will have to be consistent, not a hit and run event. The main issue is that Jesus knows where you will be most effective…and you don’t.
Be Filled with the Spirit
Fruit comes from abiding in Jesus. Fruit comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Kingdom, God gives fruit to those who focus on him and allow him to live through them. Techniques and façades are no substitute. When our lives are consistently controlled by the Spirit, people begin to notice that “something.”
Love in the Spirit
Our world is a broken place. Many people are lonely; even the “put together ones.” It is a basic human need to be loved. For a good definition of what that looks like read 1 Cor. 13. Here’s the short version: Love is consistently doing what is right for other people, regardless of how it affects us. Avoid the street corner trumpets announcing how much you love people. Just love them under the guidance of the Spirit. Go the extra mile, time after time. Do your best to hide it; not make a show of yourself. When we live like this, we just seem to find ourselves in the middle of opportunities to tell how Jesus can love people even better than we can. I hope by now you’ve noticed I’ve taken a number of paragraphs to say what Peter said rather succinctly: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (I Pet. 3:15).
- Has your Christian sub-culture isolated you from making friends who need Jesus?
- If you care about being attractive for Jesus, what are you relying on? Is it a set of religious rules, being “nice,” giving them a clear truthful message? How’s that working for you?
- Are you used to getting specific directions from Jesus?
- What is the difference between loving in the Spirit and love as our society defines it?