Here’s some good thoughts from our friend Lee! Enjoy! -anita
It seems to me that one of the more difficult things most Christians struggle with is witnessing; sharing the gospel. And clearly, witnessing is one of the key things our Lord tasked us with before He left the Earth bodily (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). I bring this up because witnessing has been a difficult thing for me much of my adult life.
I was recently thinking about that fact and trying to understand the dynamics behind that reluctance. For me, it mostly came down to fear of being ridiculed or fear of offending someone, especially someone who held some power or advantage over me…like a boss or a prospective customer. Who would want to knowingly offend someone who was poised to buy your product, or offend a boss who could fire you? So I was fairly careful for the longest time to not put my Christian faith out there for all to see (to know me, you might never guess that at my core, I’m a pretty shy person and one who works hard to stay visible). Gradually though, particularly in my work of selling software to publishing companies, I was presented opportunities to gently discuss my faith with fellow workers and with some potential customers. On a couple of occasions, God even put me in a place to discuss my faith with the owner of the company I worked for in the latter portion of my career. I found that situation particularly interesting since the owner was nominally Jewish (not practicing). But God gave me a couple of occasions to talk with the owner about my personal faith and about some of the differences between Protestantism and Judaism. I suspect the owner’s interest was more intellectual than spiritual, but who knows what God might end up doing with those discussions.
At any rate, in recent years I’ve gotten a bit more emboldened and much more willing to share my faith and to cite the evidence of God’s work in my life as I see it.
The context for bringing up this whole subject, though, is coming from something I read concerning the fact that we, the body of believers, should expect to suffer in this life, just like our Savior did. And why? Because He said we would. In Mark 8, Jesus explains that He will have to suffer and die and then rebukes Peter for questioning that fact (Mark 8:31-33). Jesus then posits this fact: “…whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save [his life].” “Life” here is the Greek word psyche and refers to the essence of who we are and means more than just our physical self. The other key word here, “loses,” (apollumi) translates as giving over or denying oneself (but can also mean destroy or perish). It’s not completely clear whether Jesus had a physical death in mind here, but verse 38 is the one that always catches me up: Jesus said, “Whoever is ashamed of Me…[I] will also be ashamed of him [when I return].”
When I am afraid to speak of my Lord (witness) to another person, it certainly looks like I’m ashamed of Him. If I trust Him to work through me, and to get me through this life and ultimately home to Him in glory, then to not speak of Him in glorifying and loving terms calls my love and loyalty to my Lord into question. I so want the courage, the faith, the trust in my God to speak boldly of Him to a world that seems increasingly to be annoyed by and uninterested in anything having to do with Christianity. I need to speak up, regardless of any consequences. To quote the editor of Tabletalk magazine, Burk Parsons: “Halfhearted discipleship is anathema to our Savior…Jesus will have all of us, or He will not have us at all.” Given Jesus’ sharp rebuke to Peter—a much more dedicated Christian than I’ll ever be—there is no middle ground. We’re either His or we belong to the world (Mark 8:33).
By: Lee Pierce