Have you ever brought up Jesus in a conversation or in a crowd? Did you feel as if you just dropped a J-bomb?
The person across from you stares questioningly. The group of people around you stop their conversation dead in its tracks. Why? Because mentioning Jesus — which they might tie to religion or politics — is the beginning of an argument.
You crossed a line you possibly did not know was there until you stood uncomfortably on the other side of it.
So how do we overcome a sense of unease when talking about Jesus with certain people in our lives? How do we begin taking steps of faith with them?
Unexpected people showed me the steps of faith I want to take
When I was a high school student, I had a good friend who was Buddhist. She was living a good life. She invited me to some events at the Buddhist temple. Another friend, a Mormon, invited me to a social dance and her youth group.
I went. Though I was a Christian, I was curious about people of other faiths and what their communities were like.
But after those experiences I began thinking, “Wait a minute, what’s going on here? The inviting and including that I’m experiencing from these people of other faiths is something I should be doing as a Christian, right?”
So why was I not doing it? Why did something that seemed so natural for them seem so strange for me to attempt myself?
Missional living involves both gathering and going
In general, church culture teaches people to know God and gather as God’s people. But I’ve realized that at times we miss out on talking about taking steps of faith in everyday life. This is what we mean by “missional living” — steps of faith in daily life to bring others toward God.
Growing up, faithful gathering was the goal and measure of success as a believer for me. But even as a teenager, I sensed there had to be something more to living an authentic Christian life. This is when I remembered times at church when we heard from people who had gone out on mission trips.
The church had sent them to places like Latin America or Africa or Asia. These men and women had devoted their lives to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. And they shared with us their stories of taking steps of faith.
I began connecting these stories with some of what my friends of other faiths were doing right where I lived. I thought, “God sends people overseas as missionaries. But he also sends people like me as missionaries into our schools, neighborhoods and workplaces, right?”
Missional living requires believing you are sent
One of the most amazing scenes in the four Gospels is the commission recorded in John 20:21. Jesus speaks to his closest followers saying, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Jesus sent those first disciples the same way his Father sent him — with a clear mission and sense of authority. It was their duty, privilege and right to talk about Jesus wherever they went. So even if it was disruptive or a little uncomfortable, that’s what they did.
In obedience, Jesus’ followers went out with the message of life — the gospel. They went to the physical locations where everyday life happens and even into the unknown, to the ends of the earth.
God sent them. And he sends us.
Those first disciples did not make it to all the cities and isolated places on the earth where people live. Neither did the many generations of missionaries after them.
For the past 2,000 years God has been sending new followers of Jesus back into their own communities and beyond. And he will continue doing so until people all over the world know Jesus.
Missional living has happened because of people like you and me accepting this simple fact: God sends us.
Sometimes I find myself wondering, “Who do I think I am to try to talk about Jesus with that person? He or she has not expressed a desire to know God or even know about him.”
When those thoughts come, I have this answer: I am one of God’s “sent ones.” And his sent ones take steps of faith every day with the people in their lives.
What about you? Can you embrace the truth that Jesus himself sends you with a clear mission and authority into your daily life of friends, co-workers and family?
Remind yourself every day that God has sent you
Back in high school I started thinking about my Buddhist friend. One day I asked, “What exactly is it that you believe?”
She shared a few things she had been brought up with in her Japanese culture. Then she asked, “What about you?”
So I told her about being brought up going to Christian churches. I also shared some simple words about who Jesus is, what sin is and why we need a savior. She asked me a few more questions. At the end I invited her to our church service, and she came.
I’m continually learning about my freedom and authority to share my faith in Jesus Christ. I do not need to have a church formally sending me out to another city or country. I have an invitation from Jesus himself. And so do you.
But I need help to think about the people in my life. Where are they on their spiritual journey? What is my next step in talking about God with them?
Sometimes I need to ask or tell them something specific. But sometimes the next step is to find ways to demonstrate who Jesus is in my life.
I need help to demonstrate and communicate the gospel message to the people I care about. I find a lot of that help through an app a friend of mine encouraged me to download called MissionHub.
MissionHub helps me focus on being “sent” every day. It offers a simple way to think through whom God has placed in my life.
The app helps me figure out how God answers a crucial question I have: What does God want me to do next as I build my relationship with these people? As I listen for God’s guidance I trust that the steps he offers me will one day lead these people into a relationship with him.