I’VE HAD TWO FRIENDS NOW who’ve sought my help regarding what to say when witnessing as to the glory and purpose of God to non-Christian friends overseas and I must admit I struggled to know what to advise them. The old ‘be God in skin to them’ doesn’t work so well from thousands of miles away when there are only wires or technology connecting us. I must admit my ignorance in that regard.
So just how do we help those to recognise God’s hand in their lives?
Well, the above question is a good starting point. It’s a point of self-recognition that has to occur in them before the Holy Spirit can actually work—the vessel must be willing.
Many people will become more curious about God when they’re suffering; they’ll want to know how God can allow these things; ‘Why them?’
These are not easy questions to answer and not having an answer is more credible than rolling out a platitudinous cliché. (Even Bible verses used inappropriately are cliché.) It would be better to gently assist the awakening of their awareness, for without their awareness, the whole “mission” is doomed for failure.
There’s the awareness that this creator God exists, that he created, and goes on creating each day—his creation sustaining itself. There’s the awareness that the truth and wisdom of God are eternal; that nothing stops it, and even the naturally occurring universal laws give powerful testimony of his overabundant grace and omnipresence. There’s the awareness that something evil happened to upset the balance—and to restore that balance the pre-destined plan of Jesus was enacted. There’s the awareness that Jesus came to die on the cross, not only to absolve our sin, but to provide the final victory over spiritual evil. We hence have spiritual hope. There’s also the awareness of our sin (their sin) and that only Jesus, through his shed blood on the cross, can save them—once they understand the theology.
But, this is often the catch. Words, themes and concepts enter often too early, when it is our heart for God, our patience, love, kindness and generosity they most need to see or feel.
How they see their lack and their need of God is crucial—finally the light of day beckons upon them and the keys to unlocking their inner heart are presented them. God is seen as presenting the offer of salvation—the free and priceless gift; the gift that we were fundamentally born to receive. God is hence thanked! And then worshipped and served. Life takes on a totally fresh context. We know how it changed for us. We began to live truthfully, able to make the harder decisions; God shoring up the walls of our integrity.
We mustn’t forget our own stories and experiences. If we’ve established trust we mustn’t sacrifice it easily on risky moves—we’re patient, trusting God that they’ll come to him—and he’ll reveal himself to them more fully—in good time.
The greatest thing about God—in my opinion—is he will exist way beyond us and he will achieve his purposes despite us; he doesn’t need us the way we think he needs us, but we are still his instruments in ‘the now.’ We still have this innate purpose to ‘spread the Word.’
We must remember also, this very important fact. People cannot be truly saved without first understanding and accepting their own sin and their own part in the fall—and the crucifixion of the Saviour; for without this understanding the need of a Saviour is not known or internalised.
Whose sins require the need for saving? This is a personal realisation at the level of the Holy Spirit within us—the most important event in our personal history.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.