Conviction can come at strange times and in strange places. I learned this the other day.
A co-worker saw that I mentioned this blog on Twitter. We talked for a few minutes about faith matters, about God’s will, about making tough decisions as a Christian. It was a nice conversation, and a rare one for a secular corporate office.
Then my co-worker said six words I hope I never hear again:
I didn’t know you’re a Christian.
Talk about convicting. I thought it was obvious, but obviously not.
I didn’t know quite what to say, so I responded with the first words that came to mind: “Oh, I’m sorry. Well, I am.”
I’ve worked with this person for more than a year. We’ve had plenty of interactions in the office. Still, the evidence lacked. This bothers me. It’s not that I’ve done anything to suggest that I’m not a Christian, it’s that I apparently haven’t done anything to suggest that I am.
And that’s a problem.
I thought about it more deeply. Conversations aside, I don’t even have any signs, posters, stickers or anything else in my personal workspace that would offer any clue about my faith. Nothing about Jesus, nothing about God, nothing from or about the Bible. Not that stuff like that is a litmus test, but if my faith is as important to me as I say it is, it seems like there should at least be some physical evidence.
The conversation was a lesson that online personas, blogs, tweets and other things that speak to one’s spiritual state are not enough. There’s a place for them, sure, but they’re no replacement for face-to-face conversations and real-life testimony. We can’t assume people have read our blogs or seen our tweets or have heard from other people that we go to church. It’s our responsibility to spread the word. It’s our responsibility to proclaim. That usually means talking with our mouths.
Sure, I’ve always told people about my faith if they ask. But I rarely have been the one to broach the conversation. That’s the opposite of proclaiming, by the way.
It doesn’t matter that we go to church every Sunday. It doesn’t matter that we’re nice. It doesn’t matter that we do charitable things. If we keep the Good News to ourselves, we’re doing it wrong. That’s not an opinion — it’s biblical.
If we stay quiet about what we believe and about what Jesus has done for us, it’s a refusal of a direct command from our Savior. Yes, it might be uncomfortable. It might even be scary. But Jesus never said it would be easy. He just said to do it.
But what does sharing look like in practice? What does it look like in a secular office setting in 2016? I don’t have a perfect answer. I could give Sunday school answers, but we all know those answers usually aren’t how things play out in real life.
But we have to do something. It’s our calling to share, and it’s our duty as Christians.
Maybe we put a Bible verse on our computer monitor. Maybe we ask colleagues how we can pray for them. Maybe we don’t ask; maybe we just tell them we’re praying for them and let that be the conversation starter. Maybe we deflect praise when we do a good job and give all the glory to God. Maybe we just put it all out there and say, cold turkey, Hey, co-worker, do you mind if I tell you about Jesus?
Every office is different. Every co-worker is different. Maybe it’s best to do it over lunch or after hours. But we need to do it. Not just at work, but with friends, family, neighbors, even fellow church members.
Obviously, there’s a difference between appropriate evangelizing and annoying, offensive or disruptive behavior. The way we share matters. The pastor at my church likes to say (I’m paraphrasing), “The Gospel is offensive enough. You don’t need to be offensive when sharing it.”
It’s an amusing line, but it’s true. That’s why it’s important to pray for wisdom (and courage) and be discerning. Build relationships. Look for opportunities. They’re most likely everywhere, if we’re not too busy or too blind to see them.
There’s no way around it, folks. We have to share. I know we worry about saying the right things, or maybe about saying the wrong things. But, praise God, someone else’s salvation isn’t up to us. We’re called only the plant the seeds. Everything else is in God’s hands.
I thought I’d be able to do my sharing through this blog. But I’ve quickly learned that it’s only a way to share, not the only way. So I pray I will do better.
The words I type may reach around the world, but if the same message isn’t received by someone 10 feet away at work, I can’t help but feel like I’m doing something wrong.