From time to time, I think about sharing my faith – how, when, and with whom.
As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, there is an element of sharing my life of faith that comes naturally as I live in this world with my faith in God. But that’s not enough – I also want to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in me to any who ask (1 Peter 3:15).
Which leads me to my question for today:
As a follower of Jesus sharing my faith, am I primarily concerned with whether the Gospel is true or whether it works?
Truth and Reality
Truth is the relationship between perception (or communication) and reality. If my eyes work right, what I see will be true because it will represent reality. And if what I communicate is based on reality, it will be the truth. That is to say that if I look up and see a blue sky and then tell you that the sky is blue, I have perceived and communicated what is true.
If, however, I see the sky and see that it is fuchsia, my perception is flawed because it doesn’t perceive reality. Or, worse, if I see that the sky is blue but tell you that it is brown, I am not telling the truth.
But how do we know what is true?
Truth and Understanding
It seems to me that we learn to understand what is true by experience. Either primary experience (it happened to me) or secondary experience (it happened to somebody else).
This might take a minute to process.
Let’s start here: what is real is what is real. If it isn’t then it isn’t.
If something is real, it can be experienced. For example, hot is hot. There might be varying qualities of hotness, but hot is hot. And if our bodies come within certain proximities of sufficient hotness for sufficient amounts of time, we will experience painful sensations related to burning.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced this one. In fact, a burning sensation is how I learned what the word “hot” meant.
What about Benefits?
To be sure, there are benefits in the Gospel message. But I think we sometimes try to “sell” people the Gospel by focusing on the benefits offered by God. We focus on the benefits of following the principles in the Bible (which are based on reality). We focus on divine healing and blessing and spiritual gifts.
Yes, these benefits are part of the Gospel message. But sometimes we don’t see these benefits in this life. Sometimes people aren’t healed. Sometimes we are financially ruined. Sometimes we kill the environment. Sometimes divorce does happen. Sometimes we bury our children and see wars break out. Sometimes Christians are persecuted.
If we sell the Gospel based on the benefits offered by God, we set people up to question their faith if something doesn’t line up with their desires – and believe me, those times will come. Jesus even told us that tough times would come (John 16:33).
But what about whether or not the Gospel message itself is true?
Let’s take a look at this from the other direction for a moment. What happens if we present the Gospel on its own merit? What happens if we tell people that submitting to and following Jesus is the right thing to do because it is true? If we base our faith in Jesus fully on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?
I think that if we do that, we have a much stronger faith. A faith that acknowledges and even expects the benefits that God has promised. But a faith that is rooted firmly in reality and whose perspective is much more complete.
How About You?
Do you think I’m wrong?
Do you think I’m right?
What do you believe should be our focus in sharing our faith?
And why do you believe that?