November-Witnessing With Fear
During a conversation over dinner the other night, we were discussing evangelism books that we have read. I noticed something that many of them have in common that disturbs me a little. Check out the titles of some of the current evangelism books: Witnessing Without Fear, Taking the Fear Out of Testifying, Share Jesus Without Fear, The Share Jesus Without Fear New Testament (NIV), Sharing Your Faith Without Fear, Witnessing Made Easy…are you getting the point?
Do you only do the things in life that have zero fear involved? What about your first job interview? Asking a girl to date you - or marry you? There is something deep within that drives us to do some of the most important things in life - despite indwelling fear. Though the Bible exhorts us not to fear - it never promises that fear will not be a factor in life.
The gospel, the most important thing in this world to us and to those that do not know Christ, is something that needs to be shared - fear or no fear. It seems like all the Christian materials on evangelism are so focused on removing the fear that if fear remains, evangelism has to wait. I think the people God uses in the Bible and today are people that fear, but have an emotion within them greater than fear. Paul preached the gospel despite his own fear. Something greater was driving him. Paul came to Corinth with fear.
"And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" - 1 Cor 2:1-5.
Paul came to Macedonia with fear…
"For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within" - 2 Cor 7:5.
I think the emotion that drives Paul and others to overcome fear is Love. A person once told me that courage is not the absence of fear but courage is having fear but going anyway. I think that love is a motivation that allows us to "go anyway." Fear remains, but there are some motivations that always win out in the things that are really important to us in other spheres in life. I think this is what is meant in 1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
Paul had boldness in Thessalonica…
"But after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition" -1 Thess 2:2.
And I think that Paul's motivation was love…
"Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us" - 1 Thess 2:8.
I made a joke at dinner about writing a book called witnessing with fear. We laughed, but that's the real message that the church needs to hear. Our heroes are not people that have no fear - but it is the real people that rise above fear and attempt great things. I think this is the encouragement I want to give. Evangelism is hard, that won't change. New techniques will not eliminate fear. It's scary to the same degree that we care for the opinions of others. For me a lot of times the fear is just about avoiding awkwardness. Whatever the fear, let's make a decision to find a motivation deep within us to make Christ known to others. We have all done it before. We have asked boldly for a job, for help, for the love and commitment of our spouse. I think Christ in us and the hope that we have in the future glory can become for us a confidence that allows us to have courage; a courage that fears but goes anyway. Make it your goal to love people this month in a way that drives you to rise above the fears that remain and share with a few people that need to hear the gospel.