Have you ever been at a function with a 50/50 mix of Christians and those that don’t know Christ in attendance? I am sure that you have seen the situation before. The Christians will often congregate in one part of the room, while the other people tend to stay in their own area. Often there would seem to be an impassable gulf between the two groups that few attempt to venture over.
The reason for that is as psychologists tell us - we like to be around people who are like us. We feel comfortable and even protected in some cases. Dare I say it….I will then, we are often like sheep.
This was exactly what happened when my wife Desiree and I attended a birthday party of a very good Christian friend of ours. As people arrived, some of which were family, they naturally moved to their own area, and the Christians to another. After half an hour or so, a couple who were not church goers arrived who my wife knew from our children’s school. They looked around for somewhere to sit and sat right in the middle of the ‘no man’s land’ area on their own. I suppose it was because they felt that they didn’t belong to either group as they were not family members and were not Christians. People were involved in conversations, laughing and joking, so they didn’t seem to notice them. No one moved from the Christian side or the non Christian side of the room to talk with and sit down with them.
Key Point: Get out of your comfort zone and take a step to witness for Jesus Christ
They looked a little awkward and were looking around to see if they recognised anyone. I then noticed that my wife Desiree went to their table and sat with them. She caught my eye and motioned for me to come over and join them.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35
This scripture has been changed many times over the years to something like, “They will know that you are Christians by our love”. I believe that this altered statement is actually true, people will realise that we are different by the way we act towards people that we don’t know. Desiree and I could have easily stayed in our own places like the rest of the people at the party, as we were enjoying ourselves talking to some old friends.
What were the benefits of joining them at their table? There are a few, some of which are fairly obvious:
· The awkwardness that the couple felt disappeared immediately
· They were made to feel welcome and comfortable
· We engaged in interesting conversation about all manner of things
· We laughed, chatted and had quite a pleasant time.
Oh, and we mentioned the word “church”.
Get ready for this, because something really amazing happened after that. The lady looked right at me and asked me a question, one that many Christians would love to be asked by someone who didn’t know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. A question that was an open door for the Gospel of salvation:
“Moray, tell me, why did you decide to become a Christian?” Wow, what a question to be asked. Praise God, what an opportunity!
“But in your hearts revere 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.” 1 Peter 3: 15
As a result both of us were able to share our testimonies of finding Jesus, which led to making Him Lord of our lives. The couple sat and listened with interest and asked a number of questions. They even made some very positive statements on how they had seen a difference in people that knew Christ.
They didn’t get onto their knees in the middle of the hall and we didn’t lead them in a sinner’s prayer, but we were able to sow seed into their hearts. We may have an opportunity again to witness to them at some time in the future. But, if not us, then somebody else will be able to ‘water the seed’ as it were.
“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour. For we are God's fellow-workers; you are God's field, God's building.” 1 Corinthians 3: 7-9
These people were not friends of ours. My wife knew them a little better than I did, and quite honestly, I did feel a little awkward joining them at their table.
What would have happened if we had stayed where we were sitting? Perhaps someone else would have eventually gone over to talk to them. I suppose that we will never know the answer to that. However, as a result of leaving our Christian friends to go over to the ‘no man’s land’ area of the room to chat to people who were away from God, it offered a tremendous opportunity to share the good news.
Firstly and very importantly we were able to let them see the love of Jesus in us. Whenever we witness or evangelise the person must see His love in us. Secondly we were given the chance to share the wonderful message of salvation with them.
Sometimes to reach people we have to take the step of faith that I keep mentioning and believe that God will back you up. He always will! Next time you are at a party or an event when you see a person or a couple on their own, step out of your comfort zone and go over to the other side of the room. Often it can be an adventure, and yes, the Holy Spirit will go with you.
What could be better?