Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I am the hypocrite

I recently found myself a foreigner in a foreign culture. You remember that song from Sesame Street: "One of these things is not like the other/One of these things just doesn't belong"? Well, I was the one feeling not like the other, like I didn't belong, foreign, conspicuous, and largely ignored.

The differences were not what you might think; I wasn't a foreigner in a foreign country. I didn't journey to some far off land, just across town. I shared the same skin color and spoke the same language, but in regard to life and lifestyle, there I differed to a large extent.

When I got home, my husband asked me if I witnessed to anyone. To my shame, I had to admit to him as I now admit to you: I did not.

I want to say that I witnessed with my lifestyle. That many who were there know I live different and that I tried to be helpful, that I was nice and friendly, that I struck up a conversation when I could have remained aloof and distant.

And I did all that. Well, good for me. But the Bible says that faith comes by hearing, not by observing, and hearing by the Word of God. My so-called "lifestyle"evangelism merits nothing if I never speak as well as live the gospel.

I stink at evangelism and this I admit with much shame and conviction. I am the hypocrite and I confess I sometimes question the depth and reality of my faith if I can never speak of it to those who desperately need the hope only Jesus offers.

Some of the people I was with that night are names I lift up nearly every day for God to save by His glorious grace. I pray almost daily that me and my family might be used of Him to minister in this situation.

I wonder, I fear, does my desire for their salvation stem from some kind of self righteous smugness that sees the mistakes of their sin and condemns them for it? I hope not. I pray not. May God have mercy on me.

I want love to compel me, love for my neighbor so to speak, and love for my Savior who so radically saved and redeemed me. If I truly love Him so, why could I not speak to them the name of Jesus, the only name under heaven and on earth by which man can be saved?

I may have felt "different" that night, I may have been viewed as different, but really I am not. I too have been lost, as good as dead in my sin, condemned, and without hope. We are no different in our need of a Savior and in our inability to earn His favor. As I repent of being selfish with the gospel, I ask the Lord for another chance, this time to boldly proclaim the name of Jesus who alone has power to save.

9 comments:

  1. I struggle with this as well. I have been praying a lot lately for God to reveal to me why I am staying quiet and help me to overcome it. Sometimes it's simply that I feel that the people who know me best will say "You are a hypocrite. You are not different then the rest of us. You worry. You are worldly. Why would we want what you have?" and I will have done more harm than good. But sometimes I admit, it's because I don't want to make a relationship with a family member uncomfortable. And shame on me for not being willing to be uncomfortable for Christ. I do absolutely think you can witness with your actions. But eventually you have to use words. And that is where I struggle as well.

    Thank you for such an honest post. I will pray for you Lisa as I pray for myself. That God will give us His words and the courage to use them.

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  2. Oh, Lisa. I struggle with this very thing. I could have written this post - it's like you've shared a page from my journal. I am such an introvert I find it hard to start conversations with people at all in these sitations, and even more to be able to share the most important thing of all. I always feel like I stumble all over myself even talking about simple everyday things, but I want so much to be faithful! I, too, fear that I am so selfish with the gospel. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will change my heart, give me such a passion for Christ, and such a real concern for the lost that I will learn how not to be so tongue-tied. Thanks for what you shared here.

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  3. I, too, struggle in this area. Our pastor preached on this very topic Sunday. He said, much as you did, that our words have to confirm our actions. People will never come to Jesus because of our lifestyles.

    OUCH!

    I left more than a little convicted!

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  4. Great thoughts, Lisa! Thanks for sharing!!! I too struggle in this, and want "my life" to "reflect God's glory" instead of using His Word, which is God Himself - living and active! : ( Thanks for boldly sharing with us....you are NOT alone in this battle of the flesh!! And great point about how deep our faith truly is if His Truths doesn't overflow from our hearts through our mouth! Ohhhhh...convicting....

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  5. BTW, did you read this

    http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1122_why_we_do_what_we_do/

    today?? Applicable! I just read it, and it went right along for me in this struggle, and struck my heart - not great is our salvation, but great is our LORD!

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  6. My personal evangelism had enjoyed a HUGE boost from listening to the Way of the Master radio program. Biblical evangelism is the whole gist of the 2-hour daily program, and they do on-air street witnessing that makes me think, "I can do that. I can say that." And it's working!

    www.wayofthemasterradio.com

    I subscribe to the free podcasts and listen to them in the car with my kids. My older girls are really getting into Biblical evangelism as well. I highly recommend this resource.

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  7. I'm inching away at this in my life. The biggest step I took was including my ministry as part of the website for my business. I've been a computer and communication trainer and consultant since 1996 and when I revamped my website a few years ago, I added that part of my life. While some of my clients knew of my faith from the relationships we developed over the years, now ALL of my clients know that I'm a Christian - just because of my website. It's opened the door to some great conversations!

    I was scared, but now I'm glad I did it!

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  8. Lisa, thanks for your honesty and openness about struggling with evangelism. We all say and do the wrong things sometimes, but unbelievers aren't upset as much about Christians making mistakes as they are about us acting perfect and faultless. Admitting mistakes is an act of humility and I applaud you. Something that helps me be more public with the Gospel is my private time in His Word. The mouth is an overflow of the heart. We can all do a better job of putting God's Word in our hearts. One way is through reading, another is through listening. A great, free Audio Drama New Testament can be downloaded at www.FaithComesByHearing.com. They have 15 English versions and about 280 other languages.

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