Sharing the Faith

Jesus told us “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). But he didn’t tell us how to do it.

In the rest of the book of Acts we discover more than one way to share our faith. The good news we offer always stays the same, but the techniques are all over the place. You just never know.

My mom is very shy and introverted, but she didn’t let that keep her from sharing her faith. When I was in junior high, she bought hundreds and hundreds of copies of the Gospel of John, went through the phone book to get addresses, and then mailed them out with the thought “God’s word won’t return void.”

Maybe that’s where I got the idea to stuff tracts into all the lockers in my junior high one lunch hour. The principal was furious and yelled threats over the intercom that afternoon—which of course only increased how much people talked about the tracts, about the gospel, and about Jesus.

At 14, I didn’t know what I was doing.

I still didn’t know much when I was 18 and 19 and went to Israel twice to work on a kibbutz so I could share the gospel with Israelis as a short-term missionary. All I did there was plant seeds with the Israelis and with all the other volunteer workers from all over the world who were there. It wasn’t just Israelis who heard the gospel message.

The older I get, the less I think I know what I’m doing.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s favorite verse was 2 Chronicles 20:12 “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” We know in part and only see through a mirror darkly, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13. Not knowing the answers, not knowing what to do is part of the human condition. Proverbs 3:5-6 warns us against depending upon on our own understanding, encouraging us instead to trust God.

So I accept that I don’t know much. As desperately as I want to fix problems, I have to accept that there are some problems I just can’t fix. I can’t cure illness, and I can’t bring the dead back to life. I’m not even so good with plumbing.

We get mocked for offering “thoughts and prayers,” and sometimes rightly so according to the apostle James (see James 2:14-17). We Christians certainly don’t have all the answers to all the world’s problems. We don’t even have all the questions.

But what we do have is the simple message that Karl Barth, one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, was happy to give. He was once asked to share the most profound thought he’d ever had. So he began softly singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

We don’t need an answer to every question. We don’t need to know very much. It’s enough that we can tell our neighbors that Jesus loves us. And there’s a nearly infinite number of ways we can do that.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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