“So what do you believe?” she asked me.
I was having dinner with my new boss for the first time. We had been laughing and telling stories as we got to know one another. I must have made one too many passing references to “my beliefs” because all of a sudden she cornered me. Or that’s how it felt.
In theory, I’m always hoping for opportunities to tell the story of how Jesus changed my life to the people I live and work alongside. In theory.
She was genuinely curious, not threatening in any way, and yet I was totally flummoxed. That’s British for “unsure of what to do next,” in case you wondered.
Eventually I started fumbling through a description of the God I believe in.
“So it’s like an energy force?” she asked.
I paused. Do I accept that description and get back to telling funny stories?
“Not exactly. I believe Jesus is a real person, and I believe I actually have a personal relationship with him today,” I said, adding the get-out-of-jail-free clause, “and that’s the crazy bit.”
“That does not sound crazy,” she replied.
The temptation to let opportunities pass us by
Why did I stumble and even make an excuse for what I believe? Well, if we’re honest with each other, there are several reasons many of us feel the urge to do that when God-given opportunities arise:
- We care about what people think of us — especially people we work with or live near. We want them to respect us and take us seriously.
- We live in a culture that often suggests we are crazy or deluded to take anything in the Bible literally.
- We have days when we wonder if everything we believe is true. Or is that just me?
So there I was, torn between wanting to take hold of the God-given opportunity and not wanting my impressively intelligent boss to think I’m delusional.
In these moments we all ask ourselves the same few questions:
- How much should I say?
- How will they respond to my personal story?
- Will my friend feel judged by me?
- What objections will they raise?
Are you sick of feeling like you’re missing the opportunities you believe God is putting in front of you? You’re not alone.
How missional living becomes your new normal
“Missionary” is a term we often associate with people serving God in another country, possibly among an “unreached” people group. Maybe they teach or provide medical care as a way of building relationships with people they hope to eventually share the gospel with. Maybe they smuggle Bibles.
That’s fantastic, but the truth is that missional living is about so much more. It happens whenever someone who loves Jesus comes into regular contact with someone who does not yet know him, or who needs to know him more.
MissionHub defines missional living in a way that keeps me focused on the main thing. It goes like this:
“Missional living is living like Jesus by taking steps of faith to demonstrate and communicate the gospel in everyday life.”
If I’m reading that correctly, missional living is about following the example of Jesus. And so that this does not end up being one of those vague ideas you nod your head at on Sunday then scratch your head about the rest of the week, MissionHub tells us our part.
- Taking steps of faith.
- Demonstrating and communicating the gospel in day-to-day life.
If that still sounds fine in theory, but beyond your reach in the here and now, do not worry. MissionHub helps both you and me walk this out one step and one day at a time.
Jesus’ disciples took steps of faith side by side
As I sat at dinner with my boss that night, I wanted one of those earpieces Tom Cruise always has handy in the “Mission Impossible” movies. I needed the smart guy talking me through my complicated, risk-filled moment.
Actually, that’s not what I needed. What I needed was a willingness to take a step of faith and the knowledge in the moment that I was not on my own.
When Jesus sent out his disciples to make their first attempts at missional living, he sent them in pairs. I’m sure he had a bunch of reasons for doing that. But what I take from it is this: If the guys in God’s ultimate training camp were not built to go it alone, neither should I.
I can sense whom God is placing around me as part of his plan, but I need help to take my steps of faith.
Think about these statements. Does this sound like you?
- I want someone to help me think about who to start sharing my faith with.
- I want ideas about how to do that sensitively as I build the relationship.
- I want to see what others are trying and what’s working.
- I want to see God at work and know I’m a part of it.
If you agreed with any or all of those statements, I suggest doing what I did. I checked out MissionHub. I thought about how helpful it could be as I tried sharing my faith with neighbors, colleagues and friends. And then I gave it a go. I had nothing to lose other than my pride — and that was not doing me any good anyway.
If you sense God calling you to take steps of faith to help others experience him, MissionHub wants to help.
A month before awkwardly explaining how I came to believe what I believe, I left my job in full-time Christian ministry after 14 years. Evangelism was my day job.
I was trained — well-trained actually. And yet, there I was with someone whose respect I wanted, feeling I needed training wheels to do what I taught others to do.
It had been too long since I’d had a conversation like that with anyone other than a random student on a college campus or a stranger on a train. I was rusty — and scared.
So I dug deep for two things: memories of past steps of faith in talking about Jesus, and training that was in me, waiting to be used. This is the spiritual equivalent of muscle memory.
As it turned out we had a fantastic conversation where I shared the story of Jesus turning my life around, and the adventures he’s taken me on since. And I was able to discover how spiritual my boss is and begin to see how God is at work in her life even if she does not yet know Jesus.
That night God reminded me that just because I’m no longer being paid to be a missionary, that does not mean I cannot live like one.
Photo by Yolanda Sun