How do you share about Jesus?
When Jesus sent out the seventy-two, he gave them explicit instructions how they were to stay with one host instead of many in order to build relationships and to serve their needs like healing the sick.
Only after they had established relationships and met the needs of the people, were they to proclaim that the kingdom of God was at hand. “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’” (Luke 10:17)
Apparently the actions of the disciples in going out gave the people a greater hunger for God because Mark reports that it led to “so many people coming and going…from all the towns” seeking them further, that the whole process culminated in the gathering of the five thousand where Jesus preached and multiplied the fish and loaves. (Mark 6:31, 33, 35-44)
As Christians, we are encouraged to witness and share about Jesus, and this we should surely do as God gives us the opportunity. But Jesus offers a guideline through his instructions to the seventy-two that emphasizes building relationships, loving people by serving their needs and then proclaiming the good news.
In Hope for the Workplace-Christ in You, there is the story of Diane who provides financial and insurance counseling to clients. One day when a client named Don came to seek advice about his 401K, he confided about injuring his back and struggling to find work that did not require heavy lifting. Diane mentioned that God wants to be with us in our struggles and asked if she could pray with him that God would give him guidance and find the right job. Diane then remembered that there was a security guard company next door that might have some openings, and asked Don if he would like her to introduce him to them. She made the introductions and they did have some openings, but to apply for the job, Don needed her assistance in downloading and completing some forms.
It was now 6:30 p.m. and Don said, “You know, I have really found that Christians are nice people.” Diane asked, “Are you Christian? He said he was but that he didn’t go to church. Diane then shared about her faith and a ministry to which she belonged. She asked him to consider attending a weekend retreat the ministry was sponsoring.
In reflecting on the experience, Diane observed, “When you hear someone say, ‘I’m having a hard time,’ that is a signal from the Holy Spirit that we have an opening to bring the presence of Christ to that person. We build God’s kingdom when we listen to someone’s need and act on it.”
It is interesting that Diane was initially not trying to evangelize Don. Her first response was simply to listen to his concerns, act on them in introducing him to the security guard company and helping download and complete the application forms. Only when those needs were met and after Don made an observation about Christians did she share about her faith.
This is a formula that missionaries have been following for centuries. Build relationships, love and serve needs, share the reason for your love – Jesus.