But what’s at the heart of us not talking about Jesus? I think the most important issue is disbelief. When you don’t share the gospel, it is because you believe other things that trump the necessity of speaking up. While you may believe in Jesus, deep down you really think, “They won’t listen to me,” or “How can my truth be better than theirs?” or “God wouldn’t show up in this random conversation,” or “They are too far from God,” or “Maybe they are OK with God, or maybe God is OK with them,” which is really, “It will all work out in the end.”
At the end of the day, you’re holding another belief more tightly than the gospel and its implications. Whatever it is for you, when you trace it, the end is that you doubt God, you don’t fully believe, and it leads to inactivity.
Another problem that keeps us silent is fear. As Penn notes, we are afraid to create socially awkward situations. We don’t want to rock the boat. Sometimes, at the root of it, there is a fear of rejection, a fear of being ridiculed, a fear of being defriended (heaven forbid!). This sort of fear is ultimately self-serving. A cool, calm and collected “keep it to yourself” Christianity is not the faith described in the New Testament.
Yet part of the fear is that we don’t want to be belligerent, street preaching, relationship trampling evangelists who treat people more like numbers than persons. And this fear, in my opinion, is legitimate. A friend of mine once said that sharing the gospel is an issue of emergency that is like screaming “Get out!” to people in a burning building. My response was, “At times, yes. But it is also like a child who is born who needs to be immediately rushed to surgery. It’s urgent, it’s an emergency, but great care, gentleness and delicacy is taken in the handling of the infant.”
When Jesus shares the truth, even when it’s an unpopular truth, he more often than not speaks with gentleness, compassion, mercy, creativity and, most of all, with adept timing. Sharing the gospel doesn’t mean treating people poorly or being a bully. You can be a normal, caring, listening, emphatic, gentle and understanding person while talking about Jesus. In fact, you should be. But you should also be honest, you should tell the truth and not water it down to make it safer and tailored to your preferences.