Talking about God is more like slicing carrots than cooking them. You’ve got to be careful with that knife and the more time you take the better.
Pressure does great things for cooking carrots and building faith, but it does nothing for sharing it.
If we’re pressured for time, friends or approval, we won’t share good news like Jesus did. Consider that Jesus’ good news is on the same level as a marriage announcement (Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a wedding supper in Matthew 22). A wedding invitation isn’t something you share under pressure or with everyone. Good news ought to be for a moment when you have time to beam and explain.
Jesus shared his faith in God carefully, cleverly and practically. Remember Jesus’ refrain, “He who has ears to hear” (Matthew 8:18)? He knew some people wouldn’t get it. When you share your faith release the pressurized feeling that God is biting his nails waiting on you to get it right.
Expect Different Soils
Jesus shared carefully, often hiding his end game (John 2:24-25). He never allowed himself to be pressured (Matt 13:58), or induced to jump hoops (Matt 19:16-17). Jesus never felt he had missed a disciple quota, though his numbers dropped dangerously low (John 6:60-64). Jesus knew that people with rocky, thorny and, dare I say, organic hearts, walked through every audience (Matt 13).
Jesus knew his words would create barren fields with withered seedlings. Jesus knew that some eager, fragile sprouts would be plucked by ravens. Jesus expected God’s good news to be discarded (Matt 13, Mark 4, Luke 8).
We cannot expect more than God expects.
Tina Fey Practicality
In her memoir, Bossypants, Tina Fey explains ,“Studying improvisation literally changed my life. It set me on a career path toward Saturday Night Live. It changed the way I look at the world, and it’s where I met my husband. What has your cult done for you lately?” (p 82).
Most people we meet come from Fey’s perspective. To talk with them we must move into the meaning of “Jesus died for my sins so I could go to heaven.” While true, this phrase no longer sounds real or even practical to America. What do your friends miss about Jesus that you understand?
With moms I talk about the way Jesus gave me courage to advocate for my son in the ICU. I mention the specific verse in Psalms that got me through the night of fear.
With teens and college students, I share that Jesus gave me a reason to not have sex with my fiancé. That culturally bizarre “saving my virginity” actually gave me the chutzpah and clear conscience to break off one engagement and have a chance at a happy marriage.
With strangers who care about spirituality but not religion, I share specific Christian practices that make my life richer.
With Buddhists, for instance, I talk about the virtue of humility and how some spiritual paths produce humility more naturally. I might explain how a higher being naturally builds my humility (he is greater than I) or mention how God humbled himself (Phil. 2).
Recently I told a friend I’d pray for her.
“Thanks for that,” she said, “I can use all the good thoughts I can get.”
Wincing, I realized “prayer” just meant positive energy to her.
Prayer throughout Scripture includes labor and silence, wondering and engagement with a person who sees the beginning and end, who loves with kindness and empathy and who knows how to weave darkness into light.
So I took the chance to explain to my friend what I meant when I said, “pray for you.” In realizing I was offering more than good thoughts she thanked me more sincerely. Next time I saw her I asked her about the situation. She knew my prayer meant something different.
Where has Jesus given you a tip or a motivation, a comfort or a direction that makes a difference in your today?
From one introvert who prefers talking about new recipes and her son to relying on her philosophy of religion degree, let me be completely frank—sharing good news is as simple and complex as being honest about God.
The line is endless, the cashier bewildered, the woman ahead of me writes a check and I’m late to pick up my son.
Where does Jesus’ gospel shimmer?
We can be as clever and careful as Jesus’ “Can I have a drink?’. He is the best example, full of questions, ready to stop and listen.
I step up and watch the cashier sigh and begin scanning with her left hand.
“How are you today?” she asks attempting a full smile.
I wait until she looks up and say, “You’re pretty popular today.”
“Thank you for your patience,” she replies, her eyes red-rimmed.
“Long day?” I ask.
“I just got here,” she says. That’s when I notice the ace bandage around her wrist.
How does Jesus speak to the woman behind the conveyor belt who is alone in the heat of the day, thirsty for living water?