This is my contribution to the new ‘Sharing Jesus’ book… available here.
What makes the Good News, good for you?
I used to always give them a wide birth. Occasionally I would even cross over the street to avoid them. If I had the misfortune of catching their eye I would smile politely and mumble words like ‘in a hurry’ or ‘no time’ and march past like some kind of Olympian speed walker! What do you when you see a ‘chugger’ in your local high street? Do you know who I mean? They are the charity workers with a clip board in hand who ask you for financial support.
Now I don’t ignore them all the time and when I can, I offer them a listening ear. But first I have to get past their pitch and the script of why I should sign up to support whatever charity they are representing. What I have noticed is that their pitches rarely have life and enthusiasm. Why? Because they have said the same thing over and over, and it has lost its meaning. The message has become boring.
If we try to make the gospel a script, a set of points to remember, it too can become like a product to those who hear what we have to say. How can we communicate our faith in a way that is real and not like a sales patter or a polished presentation?
What makes the good news good to you? As followers of Jesus we need to take time to think through the benefits of being a Christian. May I encourage you to do that today for 10 minutes or so? We often forget what makes our Christian lives good. Subsequently, the Good News becomes ‘alright news’ or ‘nice news’ or ‘no news’. Yet what we have is the best; it is the news that everyone needs and we are the only ones who will deliver it!
Pass the peace
What is it about the Good News that you could give away? Let me explain what I mean through an awkward moment in my job recently:
As part of my role as city centre chaplain I spent time getting to know people in the market in Peterborough. One day I heard an unusual sound: ‘Psst.’
I looked around: ‘Psst…’
The noise came from a stall that wasn’t selling snakes, so I guessed someone was trying to get my attention. ‘Psst…’
I saw a guy behind a pile of handbags on a stall. As I approached he asked, ‘Got any hash?’
‘Pardon?’ I said with embarrassment.
‘Mate, got any hash?’ He replied urgently. And for some reason tapping my pockets to show that they were empty I apologised for not having any for him! (As if I should carry drugs with me for such occasions!)
I then explained that he didn’t really need any drugs and that what he really needed was ‘Shalom’ from God. I also explained that I was a Baptist minister. He thought it was hilarious that he had just asked a ‘man of the cloth’ for some drugs!
He then said, ‘Well, if I had Shalom I really wouldn’t need hash would I!’ Without really thinking I asked, ‘Would you like some Shalom?’
I reached into my bag and, as if I was handing over a precious gift, I said: ‘Peace be with you’. Right there and then the man experienced something of God’s presence, and with a smile on his face he shared how he felt so much better. We spoke briefly about the love of God and the gift of his Son Jesus. I was able to give away what I had: peace.
1. What you and I have as Christians is good, so take time to think what your top three good things are about being a Christian. Write them down, compare them with fellow Christians and what they feel is good about our faith.
2. Consider how you might share that good news with someone who hasn’t got a clue what it means to be a Christian.
3. If you feel able to, pray that in the next day or two someone will ask you why you are a Christian, or why you are ‘religious’. 1 Peter 3:15 challenges us always to be prepared to give the reason for the hope that we have. How could you communicate your top three ‘good things’ to your friends and family in a way that they may understand?