This week Michelle and Betsy tackle the subject of nominal Christianity. What does nominal Christianity mean and what does it look like? What should we do if we suspect a loved one is living this life? They share a but of their testimonies and how this subject hit them close to home. More importantly, Michelle and Betsy dig into the bible to see what it says about making Jesus the Lord of your life and what true salvation looks like.
The “E” word. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. That word that sometimes makes Christians cringe or instantly makes us sweat. Or maybe that’s just me. A simple word that bears a heavy weight. How the heck do we do it and do it well? Do we need to do it? It’s intimidating at times. It’s difficult. It can be extremely awkward.
I am talking about…drumroll please…evangelism. (cue the cringe!)
I will be the last person to tell you that I share the Gospel every single time there is an opportunity to and that I am bold in my sharing. I become sweaty and stutter and my mind goes blank. So hey, this is a real article from a person who understands the urgency but difficulty of this topic. In these next few paragraphs, my desire is nothing more than to challenge you and encourage you as you read along. Read these next few paragraphs with honest reflection, prayer, and grace, because that is exactly what I am doing as I write them.
Let’s first shed some light on a few reasons why we don’t share the Gospel:
We are scared.
We don’t think we have enough “Bible knowledge”.
We lack compassion.
Can you relate to any of the three? I sure can. However, I must say (with love) these are terrible excuses that we have conjured up for why some of us do not share the Gospel. I know that we may fear ruining friendships, embarrassing ourselves, or rejection. We may be fearful of stepping over some kind line or boundary, but God has a lot to say about fear. God told us in His Word that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). The God of the universe has given us a spirit of power, the SAME power that allowed Jesus to hop up out of the grave. COME ON! Can I get an amen!? This truth should rock us and give us confidence that we are not alone when we want to share the Gospel with someone and that we have no reason to be afraid of anything or anyone! Do you trust that this verse is true, and more specifically, true for you?
Maybe we don’t think we know the Bible well enough to share with someone. I’ve been there. When I worked overseas, people who had never heard the Gospel before asked me some really difficult questions and often times my “I really don’t know” answer felt beyond inadequate. Take heart, my friends. God did not command us to share the Gospel perfectly! But He did command us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). How do we do that when we are sitting on the sidelines? God gave us His Holy Word so that we could get to know His heart and Truth. If you don’t think you know enough “Bible knowledge”, then dare I say get to know the Bible. Dive in and discover little nuggets of truth you can use when you share with someone. Spend time getting to know the heart of God and I guarantee you that His heart and desires, with prayer, will become yours too.
Or, maybe you don’t share the Gospel because you simply lack compassion. You don’t see people as lost souls heading straight to an eternity separated from God. You see them just as the rest of the world sees them. You don’t remember what it felt like when you had no hope. When you were heading straight to hell and God came and opened your heart to see Him for who He really is and the free gift He was offering. I heard the Gospel for the first time through a few women who were willing to share it with me. God did not speak audibly to me or send signs that I should be a Christian. He brought women in my life who saw me as someone in need of hope and a Savior.
I have seen these three reasons and many more in my own life, but at the same time I have seen God’s awesome grace too. I have seen my fumbled up explanations, by God’s grace, get through to someone’s heart. I have seen fear hold me back and then God so graciously provided another opportunity. I have seen my “I really don’t know” turn into the both of us reading God’s Word together to figure it out. How cool is it that God so graciously allows us to be a part of His redemptive work in the world, even when we stink at it?
Some practical tips:
- Build relationships and be intentional. Be real about who you are and love and serve those you are building a relationship with. Don’t treat people as projects. Be genuine and the opportunities to share will follow.
- Pray. Pray for your heart. Pray for compassion and a sense of urgency. Pray for the world, your neighbors, coworkers, family. Pray for opportunities. Pray for wisdom and the words to say when they need to be said.
- Be genuine. As I said before, be authentic. Don’t hide struggles or pretend to be happy all the time. Nonbelievers need to see that you aren’t perfect, and that Jesus accepts you and will continue to grow you.
- Don’t force anything. Pray for opportunities, but don’t force sharing the Gospel. It won’t feel meaningful or authentic.
- Share your testimony. One easy way to share the Gospel is being willing to share your testimony with those you are building a relationship with and loving on. Sharing what God has done in your life is a sweet way to show someone the heart of God.
My challenge is simply this: Jesus wasn’t a “love God and that’s it” kind of guy. The greatest commandment in Scripture states that we are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus loved God and was completely obedient to Him. So, He went out and told others about His Father. He fed people, He healed people, He loved people. If we aren’t following the example Jesus set, then what are we doing?
Michelle and Betsy have a very special guest on this week’s episode! “Leah” (not her real name, btw) joins the gals to talk about her overseas work in China and how she lives out the gospel in a different culture, in a different language with so many challenges ahead of her. You’re gonna laugh your butt off and praise God for “Leah’s” life, her love for the Chinese people and Christ Jesus!
Serving, not Searching
Let’s be honest. When someone brings up an overfamiliar topic that we have heard a million times, we don’t want to listen. We don’t want to engage or challenge what we have been believing. We think we have it figured out already, so we say to ourselves, “Go ahead, give me your spiel, but I’m not the one who needs this information.” Let me challenge you to open your mind to a familiar question.
You’re wondering, where am I going with this? Well, frankly, I think I could go a lot of places. Places where I myself have adopted a way of thinking based off of what, most often society, has taught me. Nevertheless, I’m going to friendship.
Seeing the images of children being sent off to school, memories flood my mind of friendships. Isn’t this where most of our friendships began? We go to school thinking, “I need to have a friend”. People tell us we need to make friends, and lots of them. And making friends only gets more difficult, as we progress from childhood to adulthood.
Now, the issue isn’t that we should or shouldn’t have friends. We know that God told Adam that it was not good for man to be alone. We also see in the trinitarian nature of God – one God in three distinct persons – relationship is what we were created to have. Fittingly, our main issue as fallen humans is the broken relationship between us and God.
The effects of our broken relationship with God have not left our relationships with others unscathed.
So, why do so many of us think friendship should come easy? Why do many of us consider that it isn’t ourselves who need to learn how to be a friend, but rather others who fail at being a friend?
Don’t worry if you find yourself friendless or maybe just with many shallow relationships – you aren’t alone. Many of us desire to have that close knit relationship with someone. We desire that, because we were made to have that with God Himself.
Let’s do an exercise.
Picture a friendship.
The ideal friendship.
The friendship you want.
In this friendship, where does the burden lie? When you think of this friendship, are you considering the qualities of your friend, or are you considering the qualities of yourself? My knee-jerk reaction is to make a long list of qualities that I’d like in a friend. Wise? Absolutely. But it often stops there. We make a list of requirements for someone else to meet, while taking little to no consideration of our own qualities as a friend.
If you’re feeling called out, it’s okay, because I’m actually the guilty party I’m speaking of.
Because often I’m hypocritical in my list of friend qualifications. So where should I, and you, really start?
We want friends. We need friends (namely the body of Christ) to properly flourish as image bearers of God, but we are starting at the wrong point. We are starting at how someone else can serve us, instead of looking for those who we can serve.
Jesus sets a great example for us and it’s necessary to look to Him for the standard. He was God incarnate. He was completely sinless and wholly righteous. And yet, He called sinful people to Himself to be His disciples. Not only that, but He came with the aim to serve (Matt 20:28) and He was teaching His followers that they were to serve also.
Jesus was perfect. Literally perfect. He had no sin in Him. Yet, did He make a list of qualities that He wanted in a disciple? He did and it wasn’t a list that we would make, I can assure you. He said that those burdened under the weight of their own sin could come to Him (Matt 11:28).
He wanted the needy, who saw their great need for Him as their Redeemer and Lord. In scripture we find that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 26-28). He used sinful humans to build his Church. Yes, He chose those who were far off to bring them near. He chooses people who have no pedigree, nothing to offer, to be His.
Most importantly, friendship isn’t about you. It’s about Him. We are to make friends to make disciples. And then we are to love and care for our brethren in Christ. We are to serve in our friendships, as Jesus did – making the Lord known and laying our lives down in sacrificial love to that end.
So, let us consider, when we are piddling about in our own complaints, concerned about not having a “ride or die”, or a “BFF” that is up to our standards – up to the idealized friend we are looking for. Let’s open our eyes to the needs around us. Let’s put aside what we think is valuable and get to meeting needs, serving others in humble submission to the Lord. Let’s tell others of the Gospel and how He meets our need for friendship, so now we don’t have to put the burden of perfect friendship on someone else. Not only does He meet our deep need for friendship, He meets our greatest need to restore our relationship to God. Because of this, we can live in the overflow of the Perfect One and point others to Him as a result.
Let’s stop searching and start serving. You may just find a friend in the process.
Blessings in Christ,
My name is Michelle and I’m one of the hosts/writers of Women of the Table. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, so you know who you’re dealing with. An awkward weirdo.
Alright now that that’s out of the way… I am married to my beautiful, burly husband, Paul and we have 2 sticky children – Finley and Luther. Many people ask me, “did you name Luther after Martin Luther?” To which I shamefully reply, “It was actually after the Tim Allen character in Christmas with the Kranks.” Regardless, they are both very adorable and very much heathens simultaneously.
My journey with Christ began in 2011, after being challenged by a loving sister regarding my nominal Christianity. She shared the Gospel with me and my eyes were opened to the beauty of Christ. Soon after my regeneration, I was exposed to Calvinistic teaching – that which I find deeply enriching to my faith. I would like to say, I’m thankfully out of the cage-stage. I’m no longer a danger to myself and others, but you can expect this is the perspective I will assume when writing and speaking.
I felt called to do a podcast with my dear, dear friend and sister, Betsy, after realizing that talking about Jesus is the most refreshing thing to me. I could literally discuss Him all day and never grow weary. Others, whom I vomit my thoughts all over, sometimes need a break. Thus, podcasting and writing with my fellow word-vomiter (I mean this endearingly) was the most perfect solution! I hope to learn to be thoughtful, diligent, and deeper in the Word as I find the best ways to express the Gospel and its implications.
I can’t wait to see what fruit blossoms and what the Lord has for us in this season. All glory goes to Him in whatever comes to pass!
Blessings in Christ,
Have a sit.
You’re welcome at the table to fellowship, learn, laugh, and praise God. What a special time. A new beginning. New people to meet and new skills to hone. New graces to speak of and new love to develop.
First and foremost, I want to explain what Women of the Table is. This idea has spawned out of an adoration for Jesus and a joy of sharing that adoration with each other. The name kind of was just a name that sounded good… that had some sort of connection in our brain to a meeting place and a place of fellowship with believers. But as I contemplate all of the richness of what this name holds, I see connections to our Lord. Our Lord gathered around the table to institute the Lord’s supper with His dearest friends, the ones whom he knew well, taught, and loved. He invites those who would repent and trust in him for their salvation, a place at his table as His brother or sister. Also, the table is a place where strangers and friends alike gather in open homes to share ideas, love, and hospitality. Most fittingly, a table is probably where we will be recording our podcast!
Here at Women of the Table, our main goal of podcasting is to complete our joy by sharing the gospel and speaking of Christ for everyone to hear. We don’t want to make this about us, or to make it about you. We want to make it about Jesus. We aim to reframe everything around the Gospel and Him, through His Word, because it is sufficient for us in every part of life.
But what makes us different? We are learning as we go, taking steps to be gospel-centered in every episode. We aren’t anyone special – no connections, nothing really interesting about us, we just really love talking about Jesus, being challenged by His word and teachers of His word. We aren’t willing to pat heads (as if everything anyone does is acceptable and God glorifying), but we are willing to stick our necks out there for the truth so that you may better know The Truth.
What will we cover? Well we love all things Jesus. We hope to include the following: theological points, sermons, books, church history, women’s ministry, evangelism, creativity that glorifies God – basically anything that involves Jesus and His Church.
We hope to utilize this blog as a home base, where we can expound on episodes, introduce guest writers, and promote Christian teachers and fellow believers who we admire.
So, subscribe to our mailing list and follow our podcast on podbean(wott.podbean.com). We will have some great eats for your ears and there’s always a seat for you at the table!
Blessings in Christ,
Michelle and Betsy