When you feel the joy of Christ, it’s impossible to not want to share it. Let’s look at it another way: if you’ve been covered in cuts and bruises, then finally had the chance to soak in an Epsom salt bath and disinfected your wounds, wouldn’t you be ecstatic? Would you not want to share that relief with others who were wounded?
This empathy is what drives addicts to becoming very effective leaders in rehab, and what drives people who struggle with mental illness to becoming excellent psychotherapists. Perhaps you’re someone who struggled in school and became a teacher. Maybe you’ve been bullied and so now you stick up for the underdog. Empathy allows us to be able to relate, and ultimately, lead people to healing. People who’ve been hurt know what type of healing is needed once they come out on the other side. These people walk with people through the fire.
From a young age, I’ve always known I’ve wanted to help others, but I often saw the world in black and white. My moral compass was very strong, and I thought it was my job to help people to fix theirs. In my teens, this looked like me trying to debate with people on faith, often ending in frustration on my part.
Why was I frustrated? Because I was too sheltered and narrow-minded to understand why they couldn’t see why Jesus was the answer. I thought I had failed when I couldn’t shoot back a mic-drop rebuttal, or simply defend my own faith on the fly. If I couldn’t bring these people to the source of all life, then what else was I supposed to do as Christ’s disciple? I had gone to all the youth group meetings at church: we even rehearsed how to approach anti-God arguments—where could I go wrong? It was my job to bring people to church, wasn’t it?
But my frustration was a result of doing something that I wasn’t meant to do. It wasn’t, and isn’t, my job to make others see the truth. The truth is: just because someone doesn’t see the truth, doesn’t make it not true. The sun still shines whether or not you can see the sun. The earth is still a sphere even if the ground under our feet feels flat.
It’s not my responsibility to change your worldview. It’s not your responsibility to change someone else’s worldview. Of course, you can change someone’s worldview, but taking on that burden on purpose can be too much for one person to bear. That, my dear reader, is God’s responsibility, and His responsibility alone. People are incredibly complex, just as you are incredibly complex. It is in the nuances among humanity that we find God’s beauty and creativity. A rehearsed response will not properly prepare you for conversation with another human being, because we all come from a unique background. The only one who can get to the heart of people is God.
Fact is: conversion is not our responsibility; conversation is our responsibility.
What does that mean? It means that whether or not someone will declare Jesus Christ as Lord, I am responsible for being open to conversation. I do not need to force discussion, but my heart needs to be open to the possibility of it occurring. It also means that someone is not open to conversation, particularly about Jesus, then it is not the time for such conversation.
It’s easy for church leaders and volunteers to feel discouraged when sharing the Gospel. Even before COVID, getting people to join prayer meetings or small groups has been like pulling teeth. Now, with many life experiences being moved online, different challenges arise. People are too overworked, or need less screen time, and so they don’t commit. It’s even easier now to be non-committal to a cause, as people can opt-out of a call just minutes before the scheduled time. But this is merely a product of the times—not necessarily a result of faulty leadership. This is a cultural problem.
This doesn’t mean that we as Christians need to stop trying. It just means we need to stop putting the responsibility to save the world on our own shoulders. We weren’t created to bear this load alone. What the world needs is your open hearts, open ears, and open hands, and, only when the time is ripe, your open mouth.