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Opinion | Discipleship

Your Messed-Up Story

Even your failures and struggles can point others to Jesus
Your Messed-Up Story

Live such a good life that people will wonder what makes you different, and they’ll want what you have: Jesus.

Variants of this message have been reiterated to me throughout my lifetime in the church. It’s a critical component of evangelism, echoing verses like, “Live such good lives among the pagans that . . . they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12, NIV) and, “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” (Ephesians 5:8).

Yet in my experience I’ve found that this essential truth can oh-so-easily morph into a counterfeit message: Seem so perfect—so ideal, so sinless, so got-it-all-together—that people will wonder how you’re so flawless and will want what you have: Jesus.

Your real story

That kind of mindset? It’s dangerous. It pressures us to hide away our faults and failures, to hold back negative emotions or struggles, and to present a version of Christianity that’s simply not the bona fide gospel. Yet in reality, a façade of perfection is actually off-putting for most people who are well acquainted with their own struggles and can’t relate to a super-human, got-it-all-together life.

As I wrote in my Bible study Shine Your Light, when it comes to sharing our testimony with others,

Our goal isn’t to show people how good we are—it is to reveal how good Jesus is. And this means inviting people into our real story—our ...
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