Christmas is a time with unique opportunities to share Christ with family and friends. We share out of our love for Christ and our love for others. Of course, Christmas is also a time of raised hopes and fragile expectations that can easily crash into disappointments, especially in the year of COVID-19. These too can open a door to Gospel conversations that point to gifts of grace that moths and rust cannot destroy nor thieves break in and steal. The Gospel speaks of lasting joys that the angels themselves said on that first Christmas morning “Let Heaven and Earth proclaim, that to us a Savior is born, Christ the Lord”!
I think Christmas is one of the easiest times to share the Gospel. However, family patterns and subcultures can make that difficult. Today, I want to help train your eyes to see opportunities to see where you might be able to share despite these difficulties. Before we do this, though, we must cultivate our own love for Jesus. It is always easy to talk about the things you love, and to do it with authenticity. A grandmother does not have to be coerced to break out pictures of the grandkids and speak of them. A sports enthusiast speaks frequently and with ease about the team he or she follows with passion. So too, sharing the Gospel with passion and authenticity begins with a growing love for Jesus.
Furthermore, because we know God loves us, even if we do not have the gift of evangelism, we can grow and learn from our mistakes. None of us innately have most life skills. If you waited till you were ready to marry, nobody would marry. If you waited until you were ready to have children, the whole human race would end this generation! We function awkwardly. A toddler learning to walk falls down and is bruised. A five-year-old taking the training wheels off the two-wheeler falls down and gets abrasions. Every new experience reveals levels of awkwardness and, if you are not awkward somewhere in your life, you are just not growing. So it is with evangelism, if it is not something you are used to, but sense it is the right and good thing to do, and if your heart is full of the love of Christ and love for those around you, you may be awkward at first. But, if you desire to cultivate the habit, Christmas is a perfect place to start.
God deploys us and also expects, supernaturally, to support us in evangelism. Furthermore, He sends us into harvest fields that Jesus said were ripe. In other words, Jesus said people out there actually want to know. The fields are ripe, the problem is not enough people are willing to enter into the harvest and tell. We do not take Jesus to anyone. He is already there. Do not fear!
So, where can you begin this Christmas?
- Your friends and family will ask you questions about your faith. When they ask, you might not know the answer. Don’t be put off by this! Say, “That’s a great question,” and go find them the answers. That can lead to a substantive conversation, and one that can make that person feel valued and cared for.
- People want to know if the Gospel is real. They will look for the evidence in your life, and will point out any hypocrisy, and it is our duty to respond in a Christ-like way. They will see we are secure in the love of Christ and can hear their criticisms. Rather, than make excuses we grow from these experiences. We can even thank them for pointing out our shortcomings. We can say, I am grateful to you for the flaws you pointed out. Please forgive me, because I would not want anything I did to keep you from seeing how deeply Christ loves you.
- You will find that God is already at work in your family and friends. Again, we do not take Jesus to anyone. He is already there. We go to make explicit what He is already doing implicitly.
There are often points of connection whereby the Gospel can be presented naturally and winsomely. At Christmas, these points of connection are everywhere. Jesus used whatever was available to bring into the light the deeper spiritual need: water at a well; a shepherd tending sheep; a farmer sowing his field; a loaf of bread and a cup of wine.
Try to seek to connect with people where they are in any given moment or setting. Begin conversations by commenting about public things; things that you perhaps share in common. There is plenty available, with which you can begin a conversation. To list a few examples: The point of Christmas, the idea of gift giving, the Salvation Army bell ringer outside the store, and the list goes on. At Christmas, there are connection points everywhere.
In preparation for these connection points, think of generic—unthreatening—public questions. Listen well for the answers, as you will most likely be given permission to ask follow-up questions around the data supplied in the answer. This is all part of looking for an opening for the Gospel. Learning the art of asking questions and listening (in a way that reveals genuine interest in others) opens doors for the Gospel. Go as deep as the person you are speaking with will allow. Beginning with these public things common to you both and move to the areas others leave open to you through their answers. Listen with interest to discern the Presence of God in the conversation. You are never more conscious than when you are aware of the Presence of God.
Above all, we depend on the Holy Spirit as we share the Gospel with those around us. Remain attuned and alert to the work that God is doing around you, and listen to the promptings the Spirit arises in you. As you look to share the Gospel with friends and family this year, pray, so that you will be mindful of your own brokenness in order to be sensitive and empathetic to the complex circumstances of others around you. Pray, so that during the Christmas season you can speak to the marvelous message that the God of the Universe entered into the world of brokenness to give hope and healing.