John Piper writes that we should be conduits of God’s grace, not cul-de-sacs. The idea here is that the Gospel we have received via God’s entering our story through Jesus Christ should be shared with those around us. This can be tough for many reasons. Three of them come to my mind initially and I would like to share them with you.
1) Jesus has gone out of style—he isn’t “in vogue”, so to speak. Let’s face it, social perceptions can dictate much of what we do and say; and when it comes to sharing our faith, the way people think about us can often times influence our decision to speak up. I don’t like when people don’t like me. And in a society that values tolerance and relativism, any mention of Jesus or his teaching may render us intolerant or narrow minded.
2) The idea of sharing our faith has become cliche. Those of us who have grown up in the church know the routine. The imperative to share the Gospel with friend, family, neighbor, and enemy is something the church pounds into our minds ceaselessly—so much so, perhaps, that we begin to tire of the same “old” message.
3) Our understanding of what exactly is the Christian mission in this earthly life may be slightly off the mark. Piper’s calling to be conduits instead of cul-de-sacs is particularly powerful here. Sometimes we can fall into thinking that the grace we have received is solely for our benefit, our happiness, and our prosperity. We accept and acknowledge the life-transforming grace we have received through God’s love, but often times the story of grace ends there, short of reaching another human soul.
These three reasons for why it is tough to share our faith reflect individual failings as well as societal pressures to “fit in”. Yet when we stop our busy lives and meditate on the central message of the Gospel, it becomes increasingly difficult to hide the undeniable joy that flows from the human soul when Christ becomes its treasure. Often times, I lose track of my treasure amid the cacophony of sounds and voices encountered in everyday life. I need to be reminded of the death-defeating, life-giving, soul-transforming love and character of the Godhead. In reference to sharing this joy with others, I once heard the concept of sharing our faith in these terms:
‘If I asked you to describe your father’s face to me, you could write your thoughts down on paper. You could present an argument, propositionally, for what your father’s face looks like—writing each facet of his face down on paper. Yet, you could never exhaust everything there is to know about your father’s face. For me to know exactly what your father looks like, I would have to look at his face myself. It is the same with God. For people to know who He is and what He is like, they will have to spend some face time with God, getting to know and understand Him.’
If our joy-filled lives can point people to the face of God (our treasure), then maybe faith sharing would become a little less of a chore and more of a natural overflow of the Spirit of God working in our lives.