by Pastor John Stout
About a year and half after I became a Christian I was visiting my home town where I had grown up. I had been in the military for 6 years prior and the impression most of my older high school friends had of me was my old self, not a Christian. As the time drew nearer for me visit home, I started to wrestle with the idea of the conversations I might have with these friends when I returned.
Two thoughts or scenarios ran through my mind. The first was that they would no longer see me with respect and think that I have fallen off my rocker, turning into a weak, dependent, bible-thumper. During my devotional time though, the Lord was bringing to my attention some verses giving me encouragement and direction.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16, ESV)
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26, ESV) -
The second thought or scenario was to just be silent and not bring up, or avoid, any conversations that might lead to an uncomfortable conversation. My temptation to justify this thought was that I was being patient and not pushy. I told myself I would I pray for them and someone else might be the messenger, avoiding this responsibility as a believer. Truly knowing this was not the way I was to handle these encounters, I started to pray that my heart and mind would change.
I started to look to Gods word for direction and these two stories and verses have helped guide me when I may start to feel this way again.
First is the prophet Isaiah. In this simple verse we see the Lord searching for someone who has a willing heart to partake in His kingdom plan and mission. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8, NIV)
I knew I needed my heart to change and become like his. That in order for a farmer to produce fruit, he must go out first and plant the seeds. If I wanted to see fruit in my friends then I must be first willing to plant those seeds in there lives and hearts.
The second and more convicting was the story of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a prophet in the old testament and demeaned a watchman for the people of Israel, in the kingdom of Judah by God. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 3:17–19, NIV)
The writer Jayson sums this up perfectly. “ A sobering element of this calling is the knowledge that when Ezekiel neglects to share the Lord’s warning for Judah’s wickedness, he will share in the responsibility. This passage should shake us, Christ’s followers, out of our slumber. We, too, are watchmen of sorts. We have a message of salvation to deliver, and some responsibility lies on the messenger who neglects to give the message.” (Verses About Evangelism, Jayson Bradley)
I knew then that my silence was a form of disobedience. It was an easier route for me to be tempted to take, but God was calling me to not be silent. Coming home then I spoke to my friend and eventually invited him and his girlfriend to come to a church with us while we were home visiting. He agreed and I thought my work was finished. During the ending worship set for the service though, I felt the Lord calling me to lay hands on him and pray for him and his salvation. This was over the top for me as an introvert, but the words of the Lord rang in my heart. I prayed for him and nothing happened afterwards. I thought to myself, great you really scared him off now. After church we parted our ways and I left to go back to Hawaii where I was serving.
A few months went by and I never heard anything from him. Then one day I got a call from him asking me all these spiritual questions and him telling me he and his wife had been going faithfully to the church since we left. They gave their hearts to the Lord.
I reflect back on to this moment in my walk any time I am tempted to just be silent. Remembering that the Lord is calling us to go like the prophet Isaiah, waiting for us to respond, “send me.” I also have a responsibility, like a watchman, to share the good news with those that the Lord places in my path. In doing so I participate in partnership mission work with God and reap a harvest for His glory and kingdom.
My challenge to you this week is to seek to have a willing heart to go where and how God calls you.
Another challenge is that maybe there has been a person or situation in your life where you have been taking the tempting route of being silent. May you reflect on the words from God to Ezekiel and seek how you can be a messenger for the Lord to those people.
Lastly, some of you may have been ashamed of your relationship with the Lord when you are around friends, coworkers, or family. I pray that you take pride in your relationship with the Lord and not shame.