Sharing the Gospel Like Jesus Did
Whenever I talk about faith with someone else, I always try to remember that I am joining a conversation that is already in progress. In almost every case, the person I am speaking with has had some connection with a Christ follower… for better or worse!
C.S. Lewis once said that people who are not yet following Jesus have one of two problems: they either don’t know a Christian… or they do! That’s a great — and sadly accurate — comment isn’t it? But beyond the human conversation, when we talk faith with another person we need to remember that we are entering a conversation that God’s Holy Spirit has already begun.
So how do we enter that conversation and talk faith? Just the way we would enter a human conversation already in progress:
- We wouldn’t barge in and just start talking. First, we would listen and perhaps ask questions, showing respect for the other person and earning the right to speak.
- We would try to understand what is already being thought and said and build from there.
- We would seek to contribute to the conversation not take it over.
There is a great example of how to talk about faith in the life of Jesus as told by Luke. In chapter 24 beginning at verse 13, we read that two people were walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus and “while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus himself approached and began travelling with them.” He joined a conversation already in progress, and according to this text, at first, he just journeyed with them and listened.
In verse 17 Jesus entered the conversation but not with the answers Jesus asked a question: “What are you talking about?”. First, he listened. Then He engaged them. Then He drew them out a bit with a simple question. There is a great moment when one of the two, Cleopas, asked Jesus “are you unaware of what has happened here in these days?” I wonder if Jesus had to suppress a smile at that one. Who knows? But he did press on and asked another question: “What things?” in effect saying, “Please, tell me more about what you are thinking and feeling”. This unlocked the floodgates and the two travellers poured out their thoughts, experiences, and disappointments (vss19-24). It was only then, after listening and asking questions, that Jesus began to provide some answers from the scriptures (v.27). He must have done it in a very engaging way too because when they got to Emmaus they urged him to stay with them longer. And note that this was all before they even had identified him! Apparently, Jesus is willing to engage with us, with our thoughts and questions before we have the right answers or even know who Jesus truly is.
There is a beautiful and important finish to this story of talking faith. Jesus accepts the invitation to stick around and shares some basic life experiences with them. He entered the same home they did. He ate with them. He prayed. He served them. And no doubt the conversation continued as it does when we share a meal and do life with others. After this, Luke says (v. 31) “their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus”. After entering the conversation simply as a fellow traveller, after listening and asking questions, after sharing what he knew and then finally doing some life together, after all that the two travellers saw Jesus for who he really was and is — the living Christ!