Monday, 15 February 2016

Are you a credible witness?

Many people that I speak to have a great desire to reach their neighbours or co-workers with the Gospel. I find that they want to know how they can witness effectively to colleagues at work or to their neighbours During our discussions many people share how they have often struggled to get a point across when they felt an opportunity arose. While others have explained how frustrated they felt when it seemed that no one really wanted to listen.

I sometimes answer them by asking a question which is, “Do you think you have gained the credibility so that people will listen to you”? It is a question that is worth asking ourselves on occasion. It will mean asking ourselves whether we have demonstrated that we have the quality of being believable or are worthy of trust. In witnessing to someone that we know, it is absolutely critical. 

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” Collisions 4: 5-6

“Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise” Ephesians 5: 15

Building good relationships in order to witness is a type of witnessing is that is sometimes known as relational evangelism. It is the personal type of witnessing that we carry out amongst our work colleagues or close friends letting the light in our lives shine so that people who know us can see the way we live our lives on a regular basis.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

 Let me make it clear. Jesus didn’t say, “Go and build relationships, then preach the Gospel to all creation”. We must still use every other method to reach people. This longer term approach is not a modern replacement for street preaching, door knocking, using tracts amongst many others. These are all very effective if they are done in the right way.  

Using the type of approach, we must consider that very often in order for someone to listen to the Gospel, we must first earn a right to speak. It makes good sense then to remember that our neighbours and work colleagues are really watching us. If our lives consistently point towards Christ and what we believe in a good way, it will provide much-needed credibility for when the opportunity arises.

Key Point Very often in order for someone to listen to the Gospel, we must first earn a right to speak

This is the reason that we are to always be prepared, behaving wisely in our relationships enabling us to take opportunities as they arise. So that it will win us the right to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For some time as an adult lecturer, I taught on communication psychology. On the courses I ran I would often explain a well-known fact which is that: People make assumptions about us according to the way we behave.

It’s absolutely true and we should be mindful of it. People judge us by our appearance, by what we say and what we do. That is why we need to work on building our relationships so that we can earn the credibility to take an opportunity arises.  Lifestyle and relational evangelism focus on doing good, setting a good example so that our lifestyle attracts curiosity. 

For example, imagine that a co-worker was a bit of a gossip and used the odd profane word in conversation. If that person was to share the Gospel with another colleague, there would be an immediate credibility problem because of the way they behaved in work didn’t match up with the way a good Christian should be acting. In other words, they wouldn’t have earned the right to speak. Let alone to get a person to seriously listen.