“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word.” (Jn. 17:20, NRSV).
Christians have made a lot of mistakes over the years. In particular, there have been some pretty tactless methods used in “sharing the gospel.” For example, almost a thousand years later, we’re still apologizing for the Crusades.
Thankfully, modern evangelism-minded Christians are usually less violent. That’s good. But we still don’t always have a reputation for being relational, inviting, respectful, or personal. Haven’t we all heard of well-meaning folks who, in the name of Christ, do a hit-and-run type of “evangelism” that doesn’t see or hear—much less love—the person who actually does need Jesus?
Some of us have collectively experienced something that could be called “evangelical guilt.” In order not to be identified with people who use witnessing approaches that we find embarrassing, we avoid talking about our faith all together. Or we think that living a Christian lifestyle alone will be enough.
Jesus expected that His followers would invite others into relationship with Him. And He expected that they would do that through both a loving, godly, compelling lifestyle, and a verbal witness. When He prayed for those of us who would believe in Him in future generations, He acknowledged that we would come to believe through the word of other Christ-followers.
It’s been said that Christianity is always only one generation from dying out. Has “evangelical guilt” kept you from talking about Jesus with others? Or fear? Or busyness? Ask Jesus to free you of anything that is holding you back from having loving, intelligent conversations about Him with others. Then, if you dare, ask Him to bring someone into your life who would actually like to hear more about Him and your experience with Him. It can’t hurt to ask, right?