I can not tell you how exhilarating it was to hear “John” say those words (see my post from September 9). Every one of us would do just about anything for someone else if it would genuinely help them become a better person.
So here’s the formerly advertised second reason for my last post: I want to encourage each one of you to be inspired to contextualize the gospel to someone this week. DON”T HIT THE BACK BUTTON ON YOUR BROWSER – THIS WILL BE SHORT AND TO THE POINT, AND IT’S NOT FOR CRAZY RELIGIOUS FREAKS – IT’S FOR YOU.
We contextualize things all the time. We talk to our grandmother about our smartphone with more simplicity than the way we talk to our best friend we are trying to impress. We talk about our favorite sports team in far greater detail the second we find out that the guy next to us loves the same team. We describe our political views differently to someone who is helping the other guy’s campaign.
We do all this naturally because we realize there is a context for every conversation. And contextualizing the gospel is about imagining how the other person will hear a story that can give meaning and direction to their life.
Here are a few things about my conversation with those three boys that we can all remember the next time we have a conversation with someone who needs some meaning and direction in their life.
1) Talk about how God has has changed your life through the gospel.
2) Be concise, but don’t be afraid to tell the gospel as a story.
3) Imagine what kind of an illustration would help the person respond to the story (remember the way Jesus would point to a tree or soil or fish and use it to help his hearers understand what he was saying).
4) Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are ready to make a decision. Sure, they can say no, but imagine what might happen if they say yes and take the first step toward life change?
Cynics can read all of this and chalk it up to a sales pitch, but my encounter with those boys didn’t feel at all like they were purchasing anything. It felt like a conversation between friends, and that’s how it’s supposed to feel when we are guiding people to begin a relationship with God that we believe will change the direction and meaning of their life.
My friend Angela wrote a comment on John’s story: Having been a bus kid and a kid that was saved through the ministry of a stranger, I love hearing stories like this one. You never know who God will put in your path to help you get to know Him or whose life you could change just by sharing your faith.
Those of you who know Angela know that this world is a better place because of her. Yes, it is a crazier place because of Angela, but I can’t think of many people who make a greater difference, day in and day out, in the lives of people who come across their path. And it all started with a stranger. I smiled when I read Angela’s comments and realized that John could be the next Angela.
And you could be the next stranger that helps someone finally be the person they are supposed to be.