There’s a word that every believer in Jesus Christ experiences when he or she wants to share their faith. We’ve all experienced it. We get excited about sharing our faith. We look forward to it. We’re reved up to preach the gospel. All of a sudden that pesky “F” word invades our feelings, and our excitement and anticipation turns to dread. It’s as if an invisible force in our emotions holds us captive, preventing us from speaking the words of life or taking action to do some good.
We’ve Been Crippled By Fear
So, what is this word I’m referring to? It’s fear if you haven’t guessed it already. Fear has crippled us in many ways as Christians. It stops us from telling our coworkers what we did over the weekend if we participated in a spiritual activity. It stops us from openly telling others that we are believers. It stops us from standing up for what’s right. It stops us from opening our mouths to talk about Jesus. Everytime I want to share my faith that dreadful feeling springs up in my chest and stomach even though I love evangelism.
How We React To Fear Can Be An Indicator Of Our Spiritual Maturity
Though we cannot control the natural feeling of fear, how we react to our fear can be an indicator of our spiritual maturity. Does it cause me to withhold the gospel, fail to stand up for what’s right, or not tell someone that I’m a Christian? Or does it drive me to trust God more to control the outcome of the situation? If we find our fears hindering us from giving others the gospel on a regular basis then we can be sure that it’s an issue of spiritual maturity.
I struggle with the pesky “F” word on a regular basis, and I believe that the root issue of it all is that I forget who I’m living for. We sublty think we’re living for our personal comfort, the approval of others, our jobs, our families, or something else other than Jesus Christ. If these are the things we’re living for either consciously or subconsciously then the threat of losing these things will cause fear, and that fear can hold us in a prison of silence an inaction.
I believe the Bible gives us a powerful key to overcome fear. It will work everytime if we apply it. I can testify in my own life the many times it’s helped me overcome my fear and silence when an opportunity to share the gospel arose. So, what is the key? If you’re well acquainted with the Bible you may be thinking “I know what the key is! Perfect love! Perfect love casts out fear according to 1 John!” That’s a nice try, and it’s true, but that’s not where I’m going. I want to talk about a whole paradigm shift.
The Key Is Death
The key to overcoming fear is death. You might be thinking to yourself, “Excuse me? Death?”. Yes, death. What do I mean by this? I mean death to your preferences, death to your personal desire in the moment, death to that self preserving voice that says “No, I don’t want to talk about Jesus with him!!! It’s gonna be weiiiirrrddd!!! I’m inadequate! I don’t know enough! I don’t like rejection”. You no longer live for your own desire in the moment, but you live for Jesus’s desire in the moment. Remember when the Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:1 “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship“? This is what he means! A sacrifice dies against it’s own will! So, you live for Christ against your own will in the moment.
How Paul Died
When I’m walking around a college campus, or a mall looking for someone to talk to about Jesus my will wants to be as comfortable as possible. So fear kicks in to ensure that my will gets its way. I can give into fear, I can fight or argue with the fear, or I can do something much better. I can die. I can say to myself “it’s not about what I want to do right now. It’s about what Jesus wants this very moment. A passage of scripture that helps me put this into practice is Philippians 1:20-21:
“according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.“
Paul says that he always lived in such a way that Jesus would be exalted in his body in life or death. No matter what Paul was doing he wanted to Jesus to be seen in him. He lived out the interests of Jesus so that others could see Jesus in his body. This would have required Paul to put away his own self interests. He says “to live is Christ“. Living out the will of Jesus was everything to Paul, and he knew that if he died doing this it would be gain for him!
How I Die
As I seek to engage in gospel conversations I constantly repeat to myself “to live is Christ and to die is gain“, “to live is Christ and to die is gain“. It reminds me that I’m not living for myself but for Christ, and it prepares my mind for the worst that could possibly happen. Actual suffering or dying is gain for me. It’s sort of a “one, two punch” way of dealing with fear. It’s not about me, and oh yea, if something bad happens it’s gain for me anyway! I’m no longer thinking about my own fear, but I’m thinking about Jesus, his mission, and the reward of knowing him set before me! It’s a win-win situation!
Why don’t you give it try the next time an opportunity for evangelism comes up? “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”