Have you ever brought up Jesus in a conversation or in a crowd, and felt as if you just dropped a J-bomb?
The person across from you stares quizzically, or the group of people around you stop their conversation dead in its tracks. Why? Because mentioning Jesus — which for them may be tied to religion or politics — might seem like the beginning of an argument.
You crossed a line you possibly didn’t know was there until you were standing uncomfortably on the other side of it.
So how do we overcome a sense of unease when talking about Jesus with certain people in our lives? How do we begin taking steps of faith with them?
Unexpected people showed me the steps of faith I want to take
When I was a high school student, I had a good friend who was Buddhist. She was living a good life. She invited me to some events at the Buddhist temple. Another friend, a Mormon, invited me to a social dance and her youth group. I went. I had grown up as a Christian but I was curious about people of other faiths and what their communities were like.
But after those experiences I began thinking, “Wait a minute, what’s going on here? Isn’t the inviting and including I’m experiencing from these people of other faiths something I should be doing as a Christian?”
So why wasn’t I doing it? Why did something that seemed so natural for them seem so strange for me to attempt myself?
Missional living involves both gathering and going
In the years since, I have realized that at times church culture has taught people to know God and gather as God’s people, but missed out on talking about taking steps of faith in everyday life. This is what we mean when we use the term “missional living” — steps of faith in our everyday life to bring others closer to God.
Growing up, faithful gathering was the goal and measure of success as a believer for me. But even as a teenager, I sensed there had to be something more involved in living an authentic Christian life.
This is when I remembered times at church when we heard about going on mission, and about the church sending people on missions. These times were called “mission reports.” Men and women — who had been sent out from the church to go to Latin America or Africa or Asia and who had devoted their life to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others — shared their stories of taking steps of faith.
I began connecting these stories with some of what my friends of other faiths were doing right where I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. If people from my church were sent overseas, why couldn’t those like me be sent into our schools, neighborhoods and workplaces in the same way?
Missional living requires believing you are sent
One of the most amazing scenes in the Gospels is the commission recorded in John 20:21. Jesus speaks to His closest followers saying, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Jesus sent those first disciples in the same way He was sent by the Father — with a clear mission and a sense of authority. It was their duty, privilege and right to talk about Jesus wherever they went, even if it was disruptive or a little uncomfortable.
These followers were to be “goers,” sent into everyday life to real locations and even into the unknown — the ends of the earth.
God sent them. And He sends us.
Those first disciples — and the many generations after them — didn’t make it to all the cities and isolated places on the earth where people live. For the past 2,000 years God has been sending new followers of Jesus to their local communities and beyond in order to make Christ known all over the world.
That has happened because of people like you and me accepting this simple fact: We are sent.
If I ever find myself wondering, “Who do I think I am to talk about Jesus with someone who hasn’t expressed a desire to know God or even know about Him” I have this answer: I am one of God’s “sent ones.” And His sent ones take steps of faith every day with the people in their lives.
What about you? Can you embrace the truth that Jesus Himself sends you with a clear mission and authority into your daily life of friends, co-workers and family?
How will you remind yourself every day that God has sent you?
Back in high school I started thinking about my Buddhist friend. One day I asked, “What exactly is it that you believe?” She shared a few things she had been brought up with in her Japanese culture.
Then she asked, “What about you?” So I told her about being brought up going to Christian churches. I also shared a few simple words about who Jesus is, what sin is and why we need a savior. She asked me a few more questions. At the end I invited her to our church service, and she came.
Over the course of my life, I’ve tried to keep learning about the freedom and authority I have to share the faith I have in Jesus Christ. I don’t need to have a church formally sending me out to another city or country — I have an invitation from Jesus Himself. And so do you.
But I need help to think about the people in my life, where they are on their spiritual journeys, and what my next step is in sharing my faith with them. Sometimes that’s something specific I need to ask or tell them, but sometimes the next step is to find ways to show them through practical actions who Jesus is in my life.
I need help to demonstrate and communicate the gospel to the people I care about. I find a lot of that help through an app a friend of mine encouraged me to download called MissionHub.
MissionHub helps me focus everyday on being “sent.” It offers a simple — not easy, but simple — way to think through who God has placed in my life.
The app helps me decide what God wants me to do next to build my relationship with them, so that hopefully they will one day enjoy a relationship with God.