If the idea of opening your mouth and talking to a complete stranger about Jesus Christ is about as comfortable to you as juggling flaming chainsaws on live television, I want you to know: You’re not alone. Every time I start to talk to someone about my faith, something happens inside, and let me tell you, it’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling. My stomach twists into a pretzel, my heart starts to pound like the pizza guy at the door, and my throat feels like I just swallowed sandpaper. I’d be doing good to choke out “Water, I need water,” much less deliver eloquent oratory testifying to the saving grace and deliverance of Christ in my life. There’s just something about witnessing that makes me supremely nervous. Maybe it’s because, deep down, I don’t feel fully qualified, like it should be a pastor or missionary doing it since I might just mess it up. If this is you, too, then read on.
First off, we need to downright reject any voice that tells us this is not our job, that this is what we have evangelists for. We may not all be called to be pastors, but we are all called to be ministers. As Paul puts it, we are all ‘saints’ (though in other respects I’m far from being one). If you have received salvation through Christ, you are commanded to share that saving grace with others, to pick up your tools and head to the fields. You might be planting, you might be watering, you might be harvesting, or some of each, but sitting on the porch drinking lemonade and watching the workers is not an option. Christ said to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15) and that “you will be my witnesses […] to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). If you have received salvation through Christ, then this means you.
Next, we need to ignore the feeling of insufficiency or inferiority to other, more ‘experienced’ Christians. There is a single qualification for being an ambassador for Christ: knowing Him. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. In fact, He delights in using what many would consider unqualified people. Moses with his stutter, Jonah with his commitment issues, Paul with his murderous background. A shepherd kid with a slingshot against a giant. Ask for God to give you the words, and He will—it should be Him speaking and not you, anyway, and don’t you think the Holy Spirit knows what to say?
Third, we need to realize that witnessing does not need to go like this: “Hi, my name is Tim. I’m saved and, frankly, I suspect that you’re not. Can I tell you about Jesus?” In fact, other approaches just might be more successful, such as forming a relationship with the person and trusting in the Lord’s timing, even as you watch for opportunities to share your faith—or to let your Christian walk speak for itself. Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22) He was a master of meeting people where they were rather than preaching at them from atop a pedestal. He formed relationships everywhere he went, and he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty mixing it up with the locals. Rather like a certain carpenter from Nazareth that Paul ran into on the road to Damascus. If we’re looking for a model to follow, it doesn’t get any better.
Forming friendships and making real connections to other people are of great importance, and it might be some time before you share your personal testimony or begin what many would call ‘witnessing.’ I think, though, that your daily actions, values, and integrity can be your witness—your light shining before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
A quick caveat to that, though… they won’t glorify your Father in heaven if they don’t know you’re His child. Picture a sponsor who spent a fortune backing a particular racecar driver, and then the driver wouldn’t allow any of the sponsor’s logos on his car. Or an Olympian who refuses to wear her country’s colors, insisting no flag is raised nor anthem played when she is given her medal. If people assume you’re just a ‘nice person’ who is doing ‘good things’ because it’s the right thing to do, then you’re missing an opportunity.
What if they realize there is a hole in their own lives, see that you have something different and they want to have it, too, but they don’t know what it is that you have? How can they try to have it, too? For your daily walk to be a living testimony, people have to know Who you’re representing. You’re not just a 'good person' (in fact, the Bible says in Romans and elsewhere that there is no one good). You’ve been purchased at a high price, and you are no longer your own. You’re in no position to decide what colors or logo you’ll sport. You’re on Team God, and for your actions to count, it needs to be clear to everyone whose team you’re on. This doesn’t mean you have to wear clothing emblazoned with crosses every day, but it does mean you should be bold about letting people know where your joy, peace, and security come from.
With all of that said… yes, I still get nervous talking about Christ to nonbelievers. Has it gotten easier? Yes. Does the Holy Spirit give me courage and aid my troubled tongue? Yes. Will it increase your faith to fulfill this commandment in your own walk with Christ? Absolutely.
So get out there and be a witness. Wear the jersey. Talk the talk as you walk the walk. Look for opportunities and ask God to use you. And leave the chainsaw juggling for someone else.