On Sunday, we began our new series, Preparing for Christmas. One of the big takeaways for me was the selflessness of Luke, and the extent that he went to share the Christmas story. I like the fact that he didn’t appear to be a great speaker or a prominent leader. He was a behind-the-scenes guy, but he used the skills and opportunities that God gave him and he, perhaps more than anyone, has been used to bring the message of Christmas to people all over the world. His example inspires me to want to get the word out about Christmas, myself. I was challenged by Thom Rainer’s list of obstacles that keep Christians from sharing. Two are related to theology, two are related to lifestyle, and two are emotional in nature. Consider the obstacles he lists and which ones you need to confront to share the message of Christmas this year.
- Inclusivism: Today, more and more people believe that all religions lead to God. Or that we just use different names for the one God. Or if people are sincere in their religion they’ll make it to heaven. Unless we take Jesus’ words seriously that He is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), we won’t make sacrifices necessary to tell people about Christmas.
- Unbelief regarding hell: It used to be that all Christians took the Bible’s teachings on hell seriously. Today, fewer do. Some prominent preachers have made headlines in denying or modifying their view of hell. If you don’t accept what the Bible teaches about the reality of eternal torment, you won’t have the urgency to share the message of salvation.
- Spiritual lethargy: We can believe the right things, but if we’re not growing spiritually, our desire to share Jesus with others won’t be there. If you don’t have a desire to invite a friend to hear the message of Christmas, ask God for help in dealing with your complacency.
- Busyness: Rainer deserves a quote here: “Perhaps one of Satan’s most effective strategies is to get us so busy that we fail to do that which is such a high biblical priority. We can be deluded into complacency about the lostness of humanity around us. The unchurched are waiting for you to tell them about Jesus. They need to be on your to-do list. What priority do you give to reaching the lost?”
- Desire to be tolerant: We live in an age of tolerance where faith is fine as long as you keep it to yourself and don’t share it with anyone. Many Christians want to avoid the label ‘intolerant’ and so pass on opportunities to take a risk in relationships and talk about their faith. If someone hadn’t risked being considered intolerant, we would never have had heard about Jesus Christ ourselves. We owe it to those around us to pass that message on.
- Fear of rejection: Recent statistics say that only one in four unchurched people would be resistant to conversations about faith. Another survey showed that 82% of people would be at least somewhat open to visiting church if invited by a friend. Even still, many Christians are afraid to talk about their faith. The potential for rejection is largely unfounded but it is a small price to pay to bring people life in Christ.
Quickly scan the list and identify what your greatest obstacle is. Would you pray for help in confronting that obstacle and inviting a friend or neighbour to one of our Christmas services this year? For me, Rainer’s words about busyness were the most convicting. Relationships take time and I need to make more time for people who don’t know Jesus. What do you need to work on? Who will you invite to Christmas this month? This Sunday is our children’s Christmas musical and on Sundays through to December 24, I will be sharing the Christmas message from Luke’s gospel. For many people, the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service (7 to 8 pm) is the most natural time to visit church. We’ll have a family-friendly service, singing lots of well-known Christmas carols, reading the Christmas story and I’ll share a short message of gospel hope.
May God help all of us to follow Luke’s example this Christmas!
In awe of Him,