“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15
I remember going to youth group when I was fourteen and the dreaded subject of witnessing would come up. The announcement was made that after the meeting we’d be heading down town to “witness”. I would rummage through my thoughts, pretending not to be scared out of my wits that I might run in to someone that I knew; trying to figure out how to look cool while doing it. To make matters worse, the pastor told us that we would be taking a coffin out in to the streets and someone would jump out and start preaching. The logic was that this would draw attention to our group so that we could get the message out there en masse!
Is this the type of activity that Jesus had in mind when he said that we would be witnesses unto the “ends of the earth”? I think not! In light of the scriptures, how are we to be witnesses? Peter exhorts us to be prepared to give an answer to “everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Here he makes it quite clear that our responsibility as followers of Christ is to give a reason when people ask us. Does that mean no other time – no! But it is an excellent notion.
I have found that there are two categories of people in the Church and neither one is right. The first category is made up of those who “witness” all the time. Sometimes some could even say that they brag about how much they witness. Yet it has been my experience that many times the “fruit” of their labors is hard to find. They don’t bring an abundance of people to Church and you don’t really meet any of the people that they have ‘prayed’ with. The second category is those who never “witness”. It scares them. And surely this can’t be right either.
Yet perhaps there is a third category – the one that Paul surely fit in to and that we can take rest in. That is the category of “yielding to Jesus”. The Holy Spirit lives inside of you and because of that you’ll surely know when He desires you to speak. I have found that sometimes we spend a great deal of time witnessing to people who have no desire whatsoever to find out about the hope that we have. And then at the same time there are friends, family members and co-workers who would love to know about the hope that is found in Jesus Christ, but no one has shared it with them.
My advice – focus on the ones who the Apostle Peter told us to focus on. You’ll see great fruit in your life and it is in keeping with this “stress free, new covenant” life!