Personal Evangelism Day 4: Obstacles to Evangelism: Fear
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)
Here is a good question. If we know the truth of the gospel, we know it’s God’s will for us to share it, and we care about the people around us, why don’t we spend more time focusing on evangelism? It seems only natural that we should want to do this more for our Lord. What holds us back? While there may be many things that prevent us from telling others about Christ, I think most of us would admit, if we’re being honest, that it’s fear.
Fear can paralyze us. If you’re like me, you can become so consumed with what the world thinks of you that you begin to be a little ashamed of the gospel. The reality is that fear far too often closes door after door in terms of telling people about Christ.
On my last day of high school, I remember walking into the building for the last time. As I walked in, I stopped and looked at the building where I had spent five years of my life (our high school included 8th grade—I didn’t fail a grade ☺). At that moment, I wasn’t happy as I thought about my last day—I was disappointed. I was disappointed because all I could think about was that for five years I didn’t tell one person about Christ. I’m not sure how many of them would even know that I was a Christian. How could that happen? Fear. I wanted so badly to fit in. My goal was to blend in and just be part of the crowd. I was obsessed with what people thought of me. So, for five years I had been a secret Christian. I was afraid to let my light shine for fear that I would be mocked and ridiculed.
I remember reading an article in CCM (Contemporary Christian Music Magazine) about singer Michael W. Smith. He had a quote that I cut out and posted on my wall: “I have to get past the point of worrying about what people think of me and just follow my heart.” That really resonated with me. Why do I care about my value in this world? Christ valued me so much that He gave His life for me! Letting Him down should be my greatest fear.
Author Rico Tice wrote in his book Honest Evangelism that, as Christians, we have to be prepared to cross the “pain line.” He went on to say that if we tell the world about Jesus, we are going to get hurt. The Word of God never promises that the road is going to be easy. We have to expect that pain is going to come, yet find the courage to cross the pain line. I remember one day when I was traveling with a colleague on a road trip for work. We had over six hours in the car together. I could hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Here you go. What a great opportunity to tell him about Christ!” As the trip went on, I could hear His voice getting louder and louder and I was getting more and more uncomfortable. I so desperately wanted to tell this person about the gospel, but fear kept gripping my heart. He’s a colleague; I work with him every day. What if he thinks I’m forcing it down his throat? What if he starts thinking I’m crazy or weird? Three hours had now passed. Inside I was a mess. In my head I was telling myself, You have six hours alone in a car with this guy and you can’t tell him about Jesus? You are the worst Christian ever! Finally, I bowed my head and quietly prayed, “God, I really want to tell him about your Son, but I’m afraid. I’m nervous. Please give me an opportunity to tell him about the gospel.” I couldn’t believe what happened next. My colleague started asking me questions about how I met my wife. I explained that we met through church. He then asked what church I went to. There it was!!! The opportunity I was waiting for! For the next 45 minutes we talked about what my church believed and I got the opportunity to present him with the gospel.
It was such a joy to overcome fear in that moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve failed plenty of times. However, there was a sense of satisfaction when I faithfully presented the gospel as God instructed me to do. In this instance, there wasn’t any pain, only joy, but who knows what the next time will hold. Telling others about Jesus could come with a sacrifice. We must never forget that whatever pain we encounter in this world, Jesus went through far greater. He knows far more about rejection than we could ever fathom! We can take comfort in knowing that the One who promises to stand by our side has been through the darkest valleys. He’s encountered the worst from man. So if God is by our side, what do we have to fear? Absolutely nothing.