by Phillip Brown
There are a number of reasons which immediately come to mind when I think of why someone in The West in 2019 might be afraid, or at least reluctant to share their faith with another. Believers are often berated and called anti-intellectual. We get epithets thrown at us like bigot, racist, hater, the list could go on. Christians are quite frequently publicly shamed for believing what they believe. Quite frequently without any thought given to how we may have come to the conclusion that Christianity is the right path to follow. On top of that we get a lot of flack even for just holding to any one set of beliefs. I find this to be quite hypocritical because, often, those who say that it is problematic to have firm convictions about a particular worldview tend to have equally firm convictions about a worldview that is just different from that which they are trying to say is problematic. But hypocrisy aside, the reasons for being afraid to out yourself as a Christian are legion. And this presents yet another problem for believers. The question is, how do we combat this fear? I don’t have any kind of silver bullet type of answer to this problem, but I will share a few ideas, which I hope might help to relieve believers of a bit of the fear that they feel and give them some direction.
The first, and most difficult, option is to just be bold. This option may include, clearly stating to someone, when the opportunity arises, that you believe in Christ, saying grace before a meal in front of someone, or even inviting them to your church for Sunday service, or most subtly, invite them to a church event that you plan on attending. The idea is to make it clear that you are a Christian and that you are unashamed of that. After all, Christ warned us about being ashamed of Him, Mark 8:38.
I say this with a great deal of understanding for the emotional difficulties that this option carries with it. No matter how teflon we feel our armour might be, things do get to us. And boldly exclaiming our love for Christ and belief in the Gospel can attract instant heat from people these days. It gets even more emotionally difficult when the heat comes from those close to us. But Scripture is clear that in Christ, we have reason to be and should be bold. For example: Acts 28:31, Proverbs 28:1, Ephesians 3:12. But there is an upshot to being bold. We find out very quickly who is tolerant and who is not. Scripture also mentions at Luke 12:51 that Jesus had come to divide people. It is part of what we need to accept as believers in His Word. I often say that being a Christian is an all, or nothing game. You either accept the whole Gospel, or you don’t and walk away from the Lord. There is no legitimate middle ground.
Test The Waters.
One way to perhaps help make us more comfortable with sharing our faith is to feel out the situation, or to test the proverbial waters. Bring up fringe topics in conversation to see what your interlocutor thinks about religion in general, religious freedom, or maybe even just God as a concept. There are plenty of news stories about religious issues to draw on as a means of seeing how someone might respond to the topics about God and religion.
You can also just give out little signals that you have a belief in Jesus. Perhaps use a quote from the Bible when referring to something, or make passing mention of something related to a church group, or event that you are involved with. This is a little more risky in terms of being seen negatively by someone obtuse to religion, but at least this method avoids the potential accusation of pushing your beliefs on someone. And it still makes it clear that you are a believer and that may open up an opportunity to talk about that with someone.
Let Your Actions Speak For You.
Finally, we have actions. This is one of the best and most subtle ways to share your faith. For one thing, we should be living out the Gospel anyway. And that means that what we do, what we say, and the way that we treat others should reflect what Christ taught us. You may even work for a Christian organization. This is a great way to participate in the Gospel and to show others how important your faith is to you. This way, not only are we making a more concerted effort to live out the Gospel, but we are also setting an example for others. And in doing so, not only will people hopefully see you as blameless, or as close to that as we fallen people may come, but it may also spark people’s interest. That is to say, people may wonder why you do what you do the way that you do it. And if they ask you, you will be given a window of opportunity to tell them about your faith.
As I have mentioned at the outset, none of these options constitutes a silver bullet. Ultimately, your willingness to share your faith comes down to two things: 1) how much the Holy Spirit has moved you to spread the Gospel, 2) how comfortable you are with possibly facing hostility from others. Clearly, we recognize that we have reasons to be afraid of, or to be bold about sharing our faith. But those reasons notwithstanding, we are commanded to make disciples of all the nations. And this must be on our hearts always.