New Christians are often instructed by their leaders to get out there and preach to everyone they see whether it’s at work, in social gatherings or in the stores. They’re told that it’s their burden to get the people around them to convert and to not get discouraged when the world puts them down because that’s how the world reacts when being told about God. But that may not be the only reason the people are getting upset.
In general, people don’t like to be told that they’re bad, that their way is wrong and that they need to submit themselves to your way to be accepted. This is called intimidation and it’s an emotion that shuts out anything you have to say after that. And because of this offensive approach in this big world of diversity, they have the right to ask what makes your way the right way or the only way?
There are two groups of people that can be your audience to preach to – one that comes to you and one that you go to.
When someone comes to you and asks you about God or the Bible or salvation, this is your opportunity to “tell” them. It’s not the time for you to criticize them, degrade their belief or intimidate their lifestyle, but it’s a door open where they are willing to listen and an opportunity for you to tell them about God. They have come to you, they have initiated the conversation and they are willing to hear what you have to say.
But when Christians become “walking pulpits” the people run from them, avoid them, cringe at the thought of their presence and close their hearts and minds to receiving anything they have to say. Is it the Bible they are refusing? Is it God they are rejecting? While it is possible that some people just don’t want to hear about God, in many cases it’s because the constant preaching is annoying, out of place, out of proper timing and not being received in good faith. Jesus never forced Himself on anyone and we certainly shouldn’t force Him on anyone, either.
So, how do we show ourselves to be Christians so others can see if we can’t talk about it? By being a real-life witness who lives it instead of telling everyone about it. Our living testimony shows God’s love and grace through what we do, how we act and react, what we say and what we don’t say.
Life presents its daily quotas of challenges and stresses, and when others can see that you get the victory over them or through them without being aggressive, unpleasant and threatening, they begin to watch carefully. Many of these observers will come to you at one time or another just to ask how you stay so calm during a crisis, or why you don’t get revenge on a specific incident, or why you don’t react to certain situations. These are the opportunities that God provides for you to say something positive about God’s character and yours.
These chances stretch into other opportunities and soon you can be the teacher and the preacher because these people have come to you and they are willing to listen to you, and they are willing to hear what you have to say because your living testimony has inspired them. Through watching you and then listening to your passive and positive response to being a Christian, you have the opportunity to help them find God.
And this is what being a Christian is all about – helping people find God. It’s not about preaching in their face every time they see you because you’re annoying them more than encouraging them. Most people live within their job, social gatherings and family units, and basically these people become your daily audience – your goal. If constant preaching at them is turning them away, you’ll loose the opportunities that were there to get them saved, but if you don’t condemn them, don’t intimidate them and don’t cause them to run from you, and just let them see God through you, you could be the witness that leads them all to Christ.
“He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…” …. 1 John 5:10