The harvest is plentiful. I get it. But I got it last summer when I was a kounselor at KAA and encountered teenagers in need of the hope of the Gospel. (Yes, we spell kounselor with a 'k' there, among other things.) It gripped me. There's a world full of people who don't know Jesus. They do not have a relationship with the greatest love of all. They are existing, but they are far from living. I even came back home after that epiphany, which followed a trip to Guatemala where the global need for Christ and the vanities of my life in this country were realized, motivated to live an intentionally missional life. I wanted to share with everyone I could, because I'd realized how many people are in need of the Good News.
But then reality sunk in—the kamp experience is not the real world experience. Kids came to a Christian camp, so they knew what they were getting into. Whether they wanted it or not, they knew what we were going to be giving out. But outside those gates, being missional could and would likely mean sharing truth with people who didn't sign up to hear it. Uhh awkward. So, I decided that sharing with strangers was a kamp thing, not something to be emulated in real life. Right? I should just focus on the three or four people in my life who already have some desire for God but need help growing in their relationship with Him. And that may have been exactly where my focus should have been the past couple of months and exactly where yours should be now. I think too often we apply our personal convictions that the Spirit has placed within us onto others and end up creating a culture of performance where people either think they're doing well or performing poorly. (I know I do it to others, unfortunately, quite often.) I'm discipling people, so I'm representing team Jesus well, or I'm condemning myself for being a lazy Christian. Either way the focus is on us.
What if, instead, we looked at Jesus and those in the scripture who identified as His followers not prescribe what fulfilling the Great Commission should look like for every person, but to be challenged, encouraged and inspired by their lives? Sunday, Dhati revealed that for the next 90 days he was going to share his testimony and/or the Gospel at least once a day. That was an act of discipline he chose to enforce in response to going through Acts and seeing that time after time the apostles were out sharing their faith. But his commitment could have landed on your heart as though if you don't do that too, then you're not a devoted Christian. It could have elevated him to some level of piety in your mind that you don't have. But it shouldn't have done that. Man's endeavors are not what we should compare ourselves to in order to determine what Christ thinks of us. So, let's take that weight off and instead ask ourselves what I did when I decided to travel with others to Guatemala last year to build a well and share about the living water. Why not? That's why I went. Why not? Going or staying would not make me more or less righteous in the eyes of God. But if there is a need, why not volunteer to be a part of the crew going to meet that need? Often times if we hear a message repeatedly, it becomes fear mongering and our guilt for not responding to the message leads everywhere but into action.
But what if you didn't have to think you were not doing enough as a Christian in order to start doing something? (That is of course if you are dedicated to loving God and loving people, and love is already an action to you.) What if, instead, you read the words of Jesus and examined His life not to tell yourself to start doing more stuff to look like Him, but to see Him for being all that you never could be and worship Him for that? And as you look at how His life was and is the epitome of loving God and loving people, the Good News of the Gospel just might fill you up to go out and share that with others. As a staff, we accepted the week-long challenge from Dhati of going out and sharing our faith. And yesterday, after having a three-hour long conversation with two universalists (one who identified as an angel) and an hour-long conversation with a Muslim Monday in Little 5, all I can think is why not?
If there are people right down the street from me who don't know my Lord and Savior or need hope or need prayer, why not take time to talk to some of them every day? What is more important? Maybe I can't do 1pm-4pm every day, but if I encounter at least one person, why not tell them about Jesus or ask them can I pray for them or tell them my testimony? Really, why not? The apostles had seen something they couldn't shut up about. Don't I have the Holy Spirit, a witness to all they saw and heard, living on the inside of me? Should I go out and share my faith every other day this week, the next week, the weeks after? Why not go out and share like the apostles did in Acts?
Well, I know why I changed my mind about doing that last August when I returned home. I lacked the solo initiative to talk to strangers. I was surrounded by kounselors and staff last summer who planned to share Jesus all day, every day and did right beside me. But that wasn't waiting for me when I returned. If my missional community would have said they wanted to go out regularly, I would have gladly joined in. It would have become my way of life. Am I blaming my MC? Absolutely not. While going out with someone else is wise, if I'm honest, I didn't press the issue enough to anyone. It all came down to fear and comfort. And those are two very real struggles, with the latter being something that I believe comes with being an American. (Regardless of how intense our struggles feel, they're still mainly first-world problems.) And fear, well, I couldn't imagine talking to the same people a group of us spoke to these last two days by myself. I just wouldn't have done it. I probably would not have even made it to those difficult conversations. After the first person rejected a request to pray for them (that happened a couple times), I probably would have talked myself out of the whole thing. But I was with two other people who experienced the same rejection on Monday. And yesterday, I wasn't the only one being told that I was not as enlightened as these universalists. I shared those experiences with my brothers and sister and knew that even in the face of opposing beliefs, we were unified in the truth. So, we persisted.
I'm not saying I don't need to pray for courage and boldness to act when it's just me (I do, and I will), but I am saying there is strength in numbers. Think about how many other people walked by us today as we were sharing with just two guys for three hours? If 10 of us were able to talk to a handful of people, imagine how many people could hear the Good News if 20 of us went out. Or 50. Or 100. If you've never shared your faith with anyone, yes, you should examine why you haven't. You might even need to feel convicted about that. But conviction should never lead to condemnation; it should always lead to the cross. And if you don't go out regularly and talk to strangers about Jesus, I'm not proposing the same conviction. I'm also not saying you are any less Christian. I'm just asking you to ask yourself the same question that I will continue asking myself—why not?