1 Peter 3:15-16 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
When we meet new people and develop friendships, how long should we wait until we begin talking to them about our faith? Have we even stopped long enough to consider their soul’s destination? Unless we’re in a church environment, it may not be the easiest of subjects to broach. It may even be awkward, especially because we just met the person. So, what should we do?
It’s hard for some people to do this type of thing – witnessing. It can be intimidating. Some people define “witnessing” as going out and talking to as many people as we can about Jesus in one day. For those who have that kind of out-going, bold personality, that’s great! They should use that talent for Christ, but it shouldn’t stop there. They should continue to disciple those they’ve led to the Lord. Numerous people, however, are reserved and simply don’t feel comfortable jumping into any subject with a stranger, let alone something as personal as faith. Yet, God gives everyone some kind of ability to witness, and it’s up to us to discover what that is, and use it to God’s glory.
As we build a bond with someone, we should always have our hearts and minds open to witnessing opportunities, praying for guidance. Starting subtly at first, we can reference God or church in a discussion, letting the person know we have a spiritual side, and it’s an important part of our lives. People can always tell what our priorities are by the subjects we bring up most in conversation. When we talk about God – even in passing – we open the opportunity for dialogue, whether now or in the future. Our friend shouldn’t be completely shocked when we do this. In other words, our actions up to this point should reflect a godly lifestyle – or at least someone who is trying to live godly.
If our friend doesn’t express an extra interest, and changes the subject, this doesn’t necessarily mean anything negative, but it’s important to continue to expose them to our true selves without being pushy. This isn’t something that can always be done in a day, a week, a month, or even a year. Sometimes, years and years go by as we slip in conversations about how something happened in our lives and why we’re praising God for it. Eventually, we may feel comfortable sharing our beliefs and salvation experience.
There will come a day when God presents the right timing for us to ask our friend about their relationship with Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, because there are so many variations of beliefs out there, we can’t simply ask, “Are you saved?” and feel assured when they say, “Yes,” that we’ve done our due diligence. That’s why we should ask open-ended questions, which are those that the answer will involve more than a simple “Yes” or “No.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us we are saved through faith and that it’s not based on anything we do. If it were, then once we’re in Heaven many of us would be boasting about all the things we did to get there. If someone were rich, they’d have extra means to do good works to which someone in poverty wouldn’t have access. However, everyone – no matter their situation – can put their faith, or trust, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we’re finally comfortable enough, we can ask our friend to tell us about their salvation experience. With this, we can then have a better idea for if the person is saved. Of course, the only two people who will truly know is that person and God, but by the teachings of the Bible, we can be confident that Jesus follows through with His promises.
If we uncover that our friend isn’t saved, we may learn there’s a reason why they have not turned to Jesus. Maybe they don’t understand how God could’ve let something bad happen in their life or how life with Him would be any different. Perhaps, they’re worried their life would change, and they like things the way they are. Or yet another possibility – maybe they haven’t been told about Jesus at all. As we spend more time with them, we can share why having Jesus is critical for us – what He’s done for us, how we’ve been comforted in various circumstances, and why the changes in our life have been for the better.
If, for some reason, our friend believes they’re saved, but gives a testimony that is contradictory to salvation by faith alone, we don’t want to ruin the bond already built by flat out telling them they’re wrong. But it’s okay to lovingly share our own beliefs of salvation. When we’re talking to a professed fellow-Christian, incorporating scripture to back up what we believe may also have a greater impact. We can let God’s Word do the preaching and the Holy Spirit do the convicting.
The first verse in the Bible Reading (1 Peter 3:15) emphasizes that we should be prepared to speak to others about Jesus. When others know how we believe, it’s common for someone who has questions to turn to us for answers. As we pray and study the Bible, God will reveal more and more to us. Periodically, we can let them know we care about their soul and are praying for them.
Little by little, we can plant seeds. Sometimes, that’s all we can do. Other believers may come after us and add water. It may be one person. It may be hundreds. We shouldn’t be discouraged if we aren’t the ones to be there for the harvest time. We should simply be thrilled and praise the Lord that our friend has given their heart and life over to God – and continue to pray for those who don’t.
When we are present for the harvest and are given the opportunity to lead someone to Christ, there is a path of scriptures we can use as guidance called “The Roman Road.”