21 September 2017

RPM part 8

READ:

Verse 10

…and Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will catch men”.

Here we see the highest of callings in the language of common men. To the farmer ‘the fields are white onto harvest’, to the firefighter ‘snatch others from the fire’ and to the fisherman ‘catch men’.

Jesus did not make the call to evangelism primarily for the elite, educated and eloquent; no He calls ordinary people, people like you and me. He calls us in a language we understand and with it comes the assurance we all need: do not be afraid.

Evangelism simply means: communicating the Good News of Jesus Christ so that people may enter into a relationship with Him. But the practice of doing it is not so simple; why? One word: Fear! Many have shrunk back from opportunities to share because of that one word. The call to catch men is not often the pleasant easy pastime that some would imagine. To sit on the bank of a meandering trout stream, or to lie lazily in a drifting boat with rod cast is not the invitation set before us. More often the call is to battle against mountainous waves and fight for our lives. There are occasions when the nets are torn and the entire enterprise shaken by storms. It is at those moments, above all else, the reassurance of the Master is an ever-present anchor: Fear not.

Take a moment to identify the main reasons for your reluctance to share your faith with others and I think we can possibly put 90% of our concerns into that one word F.E.A.R. For many Christians this stands for Forget Evangelism And Run!

Generally we can break this fear into four parts:

Fear of being inadequate. We should not worry about what we do not have and focus on what we do. You don’t need to know your Bible inside out and understand life’s great mysteries. Swiss theologian Karl Barth, to many the most outstanding and consistently evangelical theologian of modern times, was once asked by a young student if he could sum up what was most important about his life’s work and theology in just a few words. Barth thought for a moment, smiled and then said,

“Yes, in the words of a song my mother used to sing to me, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’.”

That is perhaps the greatest message we can ever bring to the streets. Acts 18:3 says ‘Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’. I remember as a firefighter on call one evening, listening to a man who could neither read nor write, yet he shared the message of Jesus in a far better way than I ever did to my colleagues.

Fear of losing reputation. Jesus made Himself of no reputation, taking the very nature of a servant (Phil 2:7). As Christians we are called to a sacrificial lifestyle, don’t worry about your reputation which can be stolen from you in a moment. Instead, invest in your character which no man can take from you, for you can only lose this yourself.

Fear of rejection. No-one likes rejection, each of us long for love and acceptance. For many people they suffer from ‘approval addiction’, terrified of failure they either burn themselves out trying to please others or freeze and do nothing for fear of failure.

Fear of rejection stems from the belief that approval equals worth, or conversely, disapproval equals worthlessness. Since we don’t want to be worthless, we become super careful to avoid criticism or rejection. We have convinced ourselves that it will be terrible if someone disapproves. If we live in fear of rejection we will never win, because there will always be someone who will disapprove of the things we say, do, or the way we are. Since it is impossible to please everyone, make it your objective to simply please Jesus.

I have been inspired recently by an article written for Youthwork magazine. In it Mike Pilavachi (Soul Survivor) talks about the need to fail at least 80% of the time. He states that if we are not failing, we are not risking, and that if we are not risking we are not stepping outside of our comfort zones, and therefore exploring the full potential of what our ministry could be.

Now I have no plans to fail 80% of the time but I like the challenge…in it there is little room for ‘fear of rejection’.

Fear of appearing hypocritical. This can stop us dead in our tracks and if you are waiting until your life is perfect before sharing with others you will be waiting a very long time. Of course, each of us should strive to ‘practice what we preach’ but we will never attain perfection in this life and thankfully perfection is not a precondition to witness to others. It is interesting to note that as Christians we are each called to be witnesses and the Greek for this is Murtus or Martyr.

Timothy 3:12 says ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’.

Someone has estimated that there are at least 365 verses in the Bible that speak about fear, and not one of them is in favour of it! God’s constant message to His people is, “fear not”.

PRAY:

Father, today I determine to stand up and be counted, to no longer shrink back from opportunities because of fear. Today I decide to move from my comfort zone and share Jesus with others. Fill me with your Holy Spirit; empower me for the task to step from the shore and into the boat.

Father I ask this in Jesus name, for His glory and fame. Amen.

MOVE

How did you come to faith in Jesus?

I suspect for many of you it was directly or indirectly through a friend or family member. Since this is often the case there is every possibility that God will want you also to reach out to friends and family members who are not-yet-Christians.

Many of us have close friends or family members who we are terrified of sharing Jesus with because of the above reasons. In closing can I challenge all of us, to think of ways that we could gently share Jesus with them. It might be through a book, giving them a copy of Rejoice Magazine, inviting them to a ‘seeker friendly’ service or sharing our personal story with them. Whatever the tool, let’s move into action.

See you on the lake!

Mitch

Mitch is an evangelist and author with Crown Jesus Ministries. For more information and contact details visit www.crownjesus.org or telephone 028 9073 8338