Monday, 23 December 2013

Would you like people to ask you about your faith in Christ?

In an ideal world it would be great if people were to ask you about Jesus, your faith or the church wouldn’t it? Do you think there is a way to open the door for that to happen? I believe that if you put the following suggestions into practice you will soon find that work colleagues, friends and neighbours will start bringing up the subject.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2: 9

Have you ever noticed that when people meet a policeman, even in social situations that they soon start to tell the officer about some issue of the law that they may have fractured in a minor way. It is as if they can’t help themselves, it seems almost cathartic for them!

The same thing happens when people meet doctors. In no time at all they are telling the poor doctor about their ailments and complaints. My Pastor of many years used to call it the “organ recital”. In other words a person would explain in detail the problems that they were experiencing with their internal organs!

Recently some very good Christian friends and I were discussing my last blog on the subject of nailing your colours to the mast. In other words, letting people know that you have a faith in Christ.   

One of them reminded me of something that always happens when you let people know about your faith. In my own case it has happened with work colleagues in every place I was employed, neighbours and family……they will ask questions.

Key Point: Tell people that you have put your faith in Christ - and people will ask you questions about Him!

I am a part-time tutor and last week I arrived at our offices early, well before anyone else. The head of the college always turns up for work first and was surprised to find me already working in the office. “Wow, you must have got here early this morning” she said. I took the opportunity straight away and explained that I had been at a leader’s early morning prayer meeting and decided to miss the rush hour traffic by coming directly from the church. She sat down in her chair and within a couple of minutes she asked me about church.

I hadn’t planned to catch her out nor set an evangelistic snare. I simply said that I had been to church and had demonstrated the fact that I was committed by explaining in a subtle way that I had been praying while many people were still in bed.

You see, things like this often don’t make any sense to people who don’t have a faith. Neither do things like baptisms, sharing faith on the streets or being a regular church attender. These things can often challenge people to the core. In fact, I have watched people try to figure it out as their facial expression is one of “Why are they doing that?”

The cross of Calvary, where Jesus paid the ultimate price to save us from a lost eternity, is something that many people just cannot understand. Scripture says: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”.
1 Corinthians 1:18

When the mind tries to work out something that doesn’t make sense, it is a natural thing to want more information. So very often that is what people will do. They will simply ask.

Getting back to the importance of telling people about your faith in some way, there are times to be silent and times to speak. We need to live out our faith in our actions and attitudes, but we must also use our mouths.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” Romans 10: 14
A few months ago I was on the last of three connecting fights home from a preaching and speaking tour in Russia. I boarded my flight in Kiev and found a seat next to the window. The plane quickly filled up with people and eventually a very smart mature lady in business dress came along and asked if the seats were available. I welcomed her and invited her to sit.

After we took off she asked me if I had been working in the Ukraine. I explained that I was on my third flight home that day from Russia and politely asked what she had been doing in the country. She said that she was an international author and had been speaking at a number of events promoting her latest work.

After she had finished I told her that I was a preacher of the Gospel as well as an author of a couple of books. I quickly explained that I had spoken and preached in a number of cities and seen God do amazing things while I was there. As always after making a statement like that, I shut up and said nothing. Within a few seconds she asked me for more information.

The rest of the flight involved me sharing my testimony, explaining the Gospel and praying for her. I didn’t lead her to Christ, but I know she was challenged by what I had to say. I gave her a copy of my book which she said she would read.

When we take a step of faith and nail our colours to the mast amazing things happens. Where are your colours?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christian, are your colours nailed to the mast?

There is an old saying which means ‘to defiantly display one's opinions and beliefs, or to show one's intention to hold on to those beliefs until the end’. You may have already guessed. It is “Nailing your colours to the mast”.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” Romans 1: 16

In 17th century nautical battles colours or flags were lowered as a sign of submission. It was also the custom in naval warfare to direct one's cannon fire at the mast of the opponent's ship, thus disabling it. If all of a ship's masts were broken, then the captain usually had no alternative but to surrender. If the captain decided to fight on, this was marked by hoisting the colours on the remnants of the ship's rigging, by 'nailing his colours to the mast'.

Whilst considering the well known verse in Romans which speaks about not being ashamed of the gospel, I remembered two people I knew who had worked at a company for quite a time, holding positions of influence, but none of their colleagues were aware that they were Christians. One of these people was a leader in a church and told me that he had never spoken to anyone about the church or Jesus.

Were those people ashamed of Christ? Well, my answer would be that they were not. They loved the Lord and it was evident in many ways. However, if they were not ashamed of Christ, what was stopping them speak of Him? In both cases it was clear to me that fear prevented them from witnessing. They were afraid of rejection and persecution by their work colleagues. Such things do happen, but most cases I am aware of have been very mild compared to what goes on in some countries, where people are tortured or murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ.

If people make their anti Christian feelings known because we share the Gospel, we need to remember what Jesus said in Luke 6: 22: “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”

That means that we are blessed by God in those situations. What a truly wonderful promise! This clearly states that as believers in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we should always nail our colours to the mast. It is a must when you consider what Jesus did for us at Calvary. One day we will each have to give an account of what we did as Christians on the earth, just as in the parable of the talents, the Lord is going to want to know what we did with what He gave us. There is going to be a reckoning and we will have to give an account.

 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” 2 Corinthians 5: 10

Key Point: We have responsibility to witness about Jesus. We can’t hide our lamp under a bushel. We have got to start talking about Him. We have a responsibility to witness about Jesus.

We can’t hide our lamp under a bushel. We must witness, we must share Jesus because we don’t much time. He is coming back soon. The Message says plainly in 1 John 2: 28: “Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives.”

I asked this church leader why he hadn’t let people know that he had put his faith in Jesus. He explained that he wanted his life to show that he was a Christian. I replied that witnessing through your lifestyle is a good thing to do. I then asked about all the people who had come and gone from the company. Had an opportunity been missed? Would those people have another chance to hear the Gospel? I say this to many people when I train them to witness and share the Gospel. Living a good life is a great example, but if you really want your colleagues, friends, neighbours or anyone else you come into contact with to know about Jesus, it will involve speaking about Him. There is really no way around it.

Are you playing it safe with your faith because you fear rejection of even a little persecution? I make a point of letting people know I am a Christian very early on. I make it clear so that they know there is no doubt. I could give numerous examples, but here are just two occasions that come to mind.

The first was when we moved into our current property. I was moving some furniture into my house with my Pastor and an elder from our church. My new neighbour was in her garden so I introduced myself and chatted about where I was moving from and so on. After a few minutes I had the opportunity to introduce my helpers. I said, “This is Colin, the Pastor of my Church and Joel who is one of our elders”. There was no awkwardness or anything like that. In fact over the next couple of years I had many opportunities to witness for Christ. They have moved to another house in the village, we are still friends… and oh, I still witness to them.

The second was at a meeting with a managing Director of Multi-national Corporation. This very successful man had just been made my immediate boss. He had a reputation for being tough on his people. I took the bull by the horns and at the right moment explained that I was a Christian who had a very strong faith in Christ. As I told him his expression was one of “Oh no not one of those!”. He said “ I don’t believe in God or anything like that, I think it’s all rubbish” I answered, “with respect, I don’t care what you think, I know what I believe”. The conversation ended there, but once again over time I had opportunities to share Jesus with him and the CEO. God is good!

Jesus was nailed to a cross for our sin. The question is where are your colours? Are they nailed to the mast?