The gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive. It declares that we’re all sinners, separated from God, and in need of a Savior. We can’t just skip to “God so loved the world” and ignore our ongoing need to repent—both inside and outside the church. Jesus is faithful to forgive every one of us who are willing to receive his yoke of obedience to him, and his love expressed for us on the cross.
Still, we must also be faithful to Jesus—and because he sends us into the world to be light to it, our faith is going to offend people. Sure, our humanness will sometimes get in the way of the gospel. But if we’re truly sharing in humility, and out of love for both Jesus and the other person, more often than not any offense we cause will come from getting the message right. Many people don’t want to hear the good news, at least initially—and it’s that initial reaction we’re so afraid of. We get so self-conscious about how badly we might screw up—how badly we’re screwed up—that we don’t share our life in Jesus at all. But as we become more conscious of Christ in our lives, we become less conscious of ourselves.
Paul said in Romans 1:16–17: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. . . . For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Live by faith, then. Trust that when God wants you to speak, the power of the gospel will be there. You are weak. And guess what? In God’s eyes, that makes you uniquely qualified to do his work.
In closing this week, let’s briefly examine Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17 (or better yet, go read the whole thing now and come back when you’re done). Look at what Jesus prays, and what he prays for:
- God has been manifested to us through him (v. 6).
- We have been given the truth (vv. 7–8, 14).
- We belong to Jesus, no matter what, and Jesus is glorified by us (vv. 9–10).
- We will be hated for belonging to Jesus (v. 14).
- We have been sent into the world, and are not to be removed from it (vv. 15–18).
- Jesus’ prayer is for all who will believe in him through his word (v. 20).
- We are to manifest God’s glory, so that the world will know the one who sent us (vv. 22–23).
- Jesus knows the Father, and because he does, so do we. Not only that, but Jesus will continue to make the Father known to us (vv. 25–26).
All these things are non-negotiable. Jesus has told us everything we need to know at this moment in our lives, and given us everything we need to carry out his will in this moment. Do you believe that?
We know when God has spoken to us, yet we often lack confidence that this Word of God is truly enough for others. Here’s a test: When placed in a situation when it’s time to share what God’s given you, share that word and only that word. Then—and I say this as respectfully as possible—shut up. Allow God’s Word to work, and get out of the way.
God does not expect us to be perfect. He expects us to listen, and obey. That is enough, and it always has been enough. God has always been in the business of making something out of nothing. So lay down your self-consciousness, give God the opportunity to do what only he can do, and enjoy the front-row seat he’s given you to watch him work.
Lay It Down Today
Actually, you have two assignments today. And yes, both involve opening your mouth:
1) Let’s pick up from an earlier assignment: You’ve begun identifying weaknesses you face, and you may well have resonated with this issue of self-consciousness. Who can you trust to share with about this weakness? He or she doesn’t have to be more spiritually mature than you, but if not, the two of you should at least be at a comparable level of spiritual growth. Seek that person out, and commit to meeting on a weekly basis. Pray specifically for one another’s weaknesses, and invite God to reveal his power in the midst of them.
2) OK, so that assignment’s a little scary. This one’s probably scarier: Who needs to hear about what Jesus has done in your life (and can do in theirs)? Push past your self-consciousness. Meet for coffee or lunch and share your story. Don’t anticipate that person’s reaction; trust God to do His work and to give you his peace as you share. If the other person will allow it, close your time in prayer, asking God to meet this person wherever he or she’s at. Keep yourself open to whatever God wants to do with this relationship.