When most believers think about sharing their faith, they think in terms of Billy Graham Crusades, missionaries like Jim Elliot, and people they know who "have the gift of evangelism". But these are more the exception than the rule. The Via Egnatia is certainly proof of that. While the activities of Philip, Peter and Paul are featured in the Book Acts, the unsung heroes are all the others who responded initially to their proclamation and then went on to share it with those they knew. The spread of the Gospel was like the old commercial where an "average person" held up a bottle of shampoo and declared, "I was so pleased with this product, I told my friend!" The screen continues to divide as friend after friend spreads the word about this fabulous product. It was the same with the Gospel. It was passed on to friend, after friend, after friend.
At the beginning of Matthew 10 (vv. 1-15, particularly 1-7), Jesus calls together 12 disciples, but gives them a new title. The word “disciple” signifies a student, a learner. Disciples abounded in 1st c. Galilee. They would follower a teacher (rabbi) and learn everything about the way that teacher lived, what they believed and taught, and in the end, the disciples’ goal was to become just like him in every facet of life. In Mt. 10, Jesus inaugurates a new phase in His students’ education. He calls them apostles and gives them an assignment: go, preach, heal, and restore life (exactly what Jesus has been doing since they signed on with Him). The difference between a disciple (student) is found in the meaning of the title “apostle” (sent one). An apostle is someone who is sent as a representative of a superior with the authority and power of that superior. They are not just a “stand-in”; they are the real deal.
We often think that we must know at least 100 Scripture verses by memory, and have all the points of the Four Spiritual Laws memorized in order to adequately share our faith with others. We think that God demands this, but we are wrong. The model for sharing our faith is actually set in the Old Testament in the Book of Deuteronomy. In chapter 6 the Lord admonishes the people of Israel to teach their children diligently to follow God's commands. They are to make it a part of their daily routine: while at home, while walking along the road, while resting, and while they prepare to work. In other words, it's a natural part of the conversation. When Jesus sent out His disciples, He didn’t change this model. He encouraged them to rely on the hospitality of those they spoke with, turn over their daily needs to the Lord, and proclaim Jesus’ message to anyone who would listen.
Sharing our faith is as simple as that. It's part of our natural conversation, because it is who we are as a disciple of Christ, but it is important to remember that we do so “in Jesus’ Name”. We can't help but tell others about what we've discovered. When Andrew met Jesus, he was so glad to have found the Messiah, he went and got Peter (Jn. 1:41). Philip sought out Nathaniel in the same way (Jn. 1:45). If you're hesitant about sharing your faith with others, remember you do not need to be a Bible scholar or debate team captain to share about your experiences as Jesus' disciple. Many times you will be surprised at how receptive people can be. Even Paul, whom we like to label as the greatest evangelist of all time, let the Gospel speak for itself (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
I can honestly say that I am not bold when it comes to sharing what I believe with others. I am constantly asking the Lord to step in and take over when I feel timid. But I am never disappointed when I surrender those fears. That trip to Greece during my seminary days proved to be a valuable lesson on this. For later on, I stood with a classmate at Mars Hill in Athens, and as we discussed how the Gospel had spread along the Roman road system, a young woman from England overheard us. She asked me to repeat it. I was happy to oblige. And while I recounted how the Gospel traveled along those ancient roads, I included its message and how it eventually came to me. Who knows what seeds were planted that day but it was an amazing experience to spread the Good News in Jesus’ Name. You are an apostle too. So spread the Good News today!
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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