I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to live in authenticity as a Christian and follower of Jesus? Authenticity being the place we accept ourselves as a fallen and broken people in the midst of an ever changing world. Simply meaning we come to the table “letting it all hang out” before the world.
Let me explain. Recently I was with a friend who is fully aware of my work as a pastor and who we’ve become good friends with over the last couple of months. On one occasion he let out a loud sneeze and I responded with a good old “bless you.” His response along with some other things happening in my life of recent grabbed my attention. He says something like with a smile of course, “you don’t force your religion onto people?”
My authenticity as a follower of Jesus means that I am going to live my life out as an example of God’s grace. In my living out my faith before others with the recognition and acceptance that I am a broken person and that without God’s love in my life, I could not manage living on my own, that this is a much better approach to sharing my faith as opposed to giving the impression that my faith in Christ is to be pushed onto someone else. Avoiding having others see me as someone pushy or forceful. It also lets others know that I am not by know means living my life perfectly and sinless.
Too often people are faced with those who use the smothering approach to evangelism. I grew up with it. I was schooled in it in some ways by my surroundings of people I observed growing up in the church. This was the thing to do at one point in my youth as a young person and a Christian. I see this even in my work as a pastor with others who are still tied to a model of evangelism that I have no doubt God uses and has used but at times overwhelms the one on the receiving end of the “good news.” When do you begin that conversation? How do you discern that precise moment in time where “you’ve earned the right to be heard?”
I am hoping to finish a book I started sometime ago called, Just a Walk Across the Room,” by Bill Hybels out of Willow Creek. It is something that I want to go through with our leaders and begin praying about in the way we do outreach together as a church community. Obviously we adapt as opposed to completely adopting the cookie cutter approach to evangelism knowing that not every model fits or works.
I hope to blog some more over the next few weeks about evangelism and about living out our faith before others as authentic followers of Jesus.