by William B. Effler
Fear may be the primary reason Christians do not share their faith-story with non-churched people. Christians are afraid of being asked questions they cannot answer; they're afraid of being rejected; they're afraid the world will see them as fanatics. And some think, "I don't have a story to share."
There are two kinds of people, each with a story. The first type thinks they have a story worth telling, but in fact, do not. The second type thinks they do not have a story worth telling, but in all truth, do. Let me give you some examples:
The rich young ruler in Luke 18 said his story included not committing adultery, or murder, or stealing, or bearing false testimony. He had also honored his mother and father all his life. But, when Jesus asked him to leave his possessions and follow him, "he went away full of sorrow."
Anannias and Sapphira were the first realtors in the early church (Acts 5). Scripture tells us they sold a piece of property and had plans to give the proceeds to the Apostles. Certainly this would be a story that would be talked about, or so they thought. But they kept part of the money (vs. 2). The real story, however, was their hypocrisy. The churches of Sardis and Laodicia, in Revelation 3, are other examples of stories not worth hearing.
Each of these examples gives the outward appearance of having a valuable story, but in reality each is only "spin journalism."
Typical of the second type, Peter didn't think he had a story worth telling after denying being a friend of Jesus-but Jesus though differently (John 21). The woman at the well knew her story was all over town-but Jesus told her she had a better story (John 5). Rahab, like the woman at the well, also had a story. But she would not be most remembered as a woman with the oldest profession known to man but rather for being the successful rescuer of God's faithful servants (Josh 2).
You may think you do not have a story. Or, you may be embarrassed about parts of your story. I have learned it is the telling of the broken experiences and painful lessons of my life that bring the most encouragement to others. My honest telling of how God turned temporary defeats into lasting victories has encouraged university and seminary students, pastors, teachers, neighbors and parents.
When anyone tells the full truth about himself to others he will bring glory to God, build integrity within himself, and bear witness to the faithfulness of God that will not be easily forgotten. With as much passion as ink and paper can hold I want to tell you that God restores the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). God returns beauty for ashes (Is. 61:3). Yes, it is true, "man looks on the outward appearance of a man but God looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). Get past this very human reaction! You have a story to tell; don't let anyone tell you differently. Remember these words of Lloyd Ogillvie, chaplain of the United States Senate, "Without God, we can't. Without us, God won't." Someone out there needs you and God is waiting for you to share your story.
Bill Effler, author of Turning the Church Inside Out, can be reached via email at email@example.com