What do I need to know to share my faith?
By Charis Fergusson
Have you ever wanted to share the hope you have found in Jesus with a friend, but held back for fear you don’t know enough?
I have, many times. I graduated from one of the top universities in the world a few years ago and still vividly remember how daunting it felt to mention ‘faith’ or ‘Jesus’ in conversation. Never in my life have I been surrounded by so many brilliant minds, in so many subject areas, in such close quarters. Honestly, I felt pretty clueless a lot of the time!
Do we need a theology degree, along with answers to all the big questions of life, in order to have great conversations about faith?
At university, I lived with 6 good friends. One of my housemates regularly challenged me about my faith, often asking some really difficult questions about God, the Bible and what I believed. Most of the time I would start to feel a bit sick, my heart racing, thinking rapidly…and it probably showed on my face! I would often respond with something defensive, which in hindsight wasn’t helpful to me or him.
The truth is, we don’t need to have all the ‘right answers’ at our fingertips. We don’t need theology degrees to share our faith. Jesus told his disciples, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12, NIV).
God loves it when we partner with Him to share His good news. He longs to work through us, and whilst it might be tempting to judge ourselves on how ‘well’ we think we’re doing, it’s so important to remember that it’s the Holy Spirit who brings people to know Jesus! I don’t always remember to ask God for His help in conversations, but I should. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to be guiding us and giving us the words to say, enabling us to share our faith in any situation.
An opportunity to listen and learn
Much of the time, sharing our faith actually starts with listening – really listening – to the person we’re chatting with. Conversations are a great opportunity to hear a person’s thoughts and demonstrate our love for them by engaging with what they say. We may not have all the answers, but we can certainly show up, listen and pray!
I have come to realise that my housemate’s challenging questions were actually a great opportunity for me to go and read up. In hindsight, I wish I had considered responding to the questions I didn’t have answers to with something like, “you know, I’m not sure about that one. But I’m glad you’ve raised such a big question, and I’d love to pick this topic up again when I’ve been able to read and think more about it!” How great would it have been if I had used these questions to grow in my faith, and potentially have more helpful discussions with my housemate as a result?
If we don’t need a theology degree, what do we need?
Talking about life’s big questions isn’t the only way to share the good news of Jesus – in fact, far from it. Living my real, messy life alongside others can be really significant. Even when I don’t have all the answers, my friends see me continuing to live in the hope of Jesus.
In the Bible, Paul shows that he had a really simple message. To the Corinthian churches he said: “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1–2, NIV). Paul says he did not come ‘with eloquence or human wisdom.’ To love Jesus is already a witness to those we meet, and to know the good news He brings is more than enough to share our faith.
There are so many ways to help others discover Jesus – from sharing your story, praying for someone, and connecting the story of Jesus with daily life. It doesn’t require you to shout the good news of Jesus from the rooftops (although nobody’s stopping you!) It might be as simple as talking openly with friends about attending church last Sunday, or sharing with them something you have been praying about recently. You might feel a nudge to tell a stranger that God loves them, or to offer to pray for them and check in on them a few days later.
If you love Jesus, chances are you’re already ‘sharing your faith’ in some way. The way you live will likely already be noticeable to those close to you, and maybe even to strangers you meet. Beyond conversations and debate, there is something significant about living an authentic life. Another of my closest friends at university often seemed sceptical about my faith, and didn’t usually seem up for chatting about it. To my complete surprise, she recently announced to me that she had started attending a church since graduating – one similar to the church she knew I attended! I will probably never know how the Holy Spirit may have been working through me in those university years, but I think God often surprises us.
We share our faith in all these ways because we love Jesus and we love others. This is such good news…and as it is written in the Bible: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”’ Romans 10:15