"I'm struggling with a non-desire to be here on earth any longer than I need to be. I know I'm here for His purpose and I don't want to deny Him anything from His design for me, but I find my desire to work here waining. I guess what I really am questioning is why I don't desire to share this treasure with my non-believing friends and people I encounter? I am comfortable to share and encourage other believers, but those that I encounter that don't know or don't care to know Christ...I avoid sharing my faith with them.
For so long I've battled with whether or not I'd offend them and ...
actually would aid the devil in turning them further away from God. I've kept my mouth shut with those that voice opinions contrary to His Word because I doubt my ability to share it in love. I am questioning my ability to love my neighbor enough to speak God's love to them and risk their rejection/anger towards me, but even worse their rejection of Him. I want so much to tell them that I love them enough to share God's truth with them, but I am questioning why I cannot open my mouth and take that risk? I have no idea how all this came from your question on heaven."
I love how Paula poured out her heart, thoughts and fears in that comment. I respect people who dare to be real about their issues, fears and quirks. Because we all have them.
I think what she is uncovering is her desire to play it safe. Most of us have this desire. She doesn't want to engage spiritually with the non-believer, which can be a messy, difficult or even hurtful encounter sometimes. And I'm guessing she longs for heaven because they're are no "messy" non-believers there. Just the supreme bliss of God and His rule.
But it's not that Paula doesn't want to reach the unbelievers in her world ... it isn't that she has no heart for them. She fears she will somehow do it wrong. And make things worse. Anger them towards her or towards God. And that scares her. Have you ever felt this way? I have.
Oh how I wish I could speed my upcoming book It's No Secret into print so I could send Paula a copy today. Chapter 13 is for her.
My understanding of evangelism has been refined while reading the Bible over the years. I believe I will be rewarded for trying to tell others the Good News of Christ, and not punished for it if they don't respond to my (admittedly sometimes frail) efforts. You see, other people's eternal fate is never in my hands. Ultimately it is the Spirit of God that draws people to Christ, and their spirit within them that responds. I can't control either of those things. But I can be used by God to facilitate that process, and that is what I pray for opportunities to do.
After all, as a disciple of Christ, I/we haven been given a great commission, a great opportunity to join God in His work. And to teach those willing to follow Him, how to be His disciple. The key there is to look for where God is already moving and working.
In case you are wondering if I get scared when in a "witnessing" type conversation with someone who doesn't yet believe ... yes. I often do get nervous in the moment. But I push past that as I sense an openness on their part and as I sense God's leading. My nervousness is usually mixed with excitment. I decide to let the excitement win out.
I'm not a very confrontational person, though my husband would say I usually can hold my own in a debate. :) I'm not the type to hit people upside the head with my faith. However, when they are open to it, and asking questions, I don't want to miss the opporunity to plant that seed either. I'll press in - gently, kindly, hopefully persuasively - and then give them some room to process and respond. If their openness continues, I'll continue. I tend to ask them a lot of questions too - I tend to want them to arrive at the I-need-Christ-conclusion for themeselves. And if/when they do, I offer to lead them in a prayer. And I do what I can to point them to a church where they can learn more and seek baptism.
If they seem to close off at any point, I let it rest while praying for their heart to soften. And I pray for and trust another person will come along and press gently towards their heart with the Good News again. I try to remember the parable of the sower and the soils. Some soils are not ready. And somtimes my job is to plant, while other times to water or harvest.
I also try to remember what St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." That says a lot about sharing your faith right there.
Since Paula fearlessly brought it up, let me ask, does "evangelism" scare you? Do you talk about God much around unbelievers? What drives you to speak up, or to keep quiet in these instances?
Thankful for the opportunity to join God as He builds His kingdom.