What if we are scared to share our faith? We have been saved, we love Jesus and our lives are changing. We know God is working. Yet, there is a barrier of fear we can’t seem to get past in order to get that faith out to others. We have a desire to shout our faith from the rooftops but can’t seem to bring ourselves to do it. Fear has us trapped and it is making us feel terrible.
What do we do? Are we stuck in silence forever? Can we be useful to advancing God’s kingdom?
First, consider the fact that the Great Commission is an order. It can read like a suggestion in English but the form of the original language of the Gospel makes it clear. Jesus as our Lord is giving us a direct order. I wrote about this in more detail Following God’s Orders – Go, Teach and Baptize. It is a command from our Lord and Savior to go and make disciples.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28
I am not helping, am I?
This seems to make our failures even worse. That is until we really consider the One giving the order. Would Jesus ever give us an order that we cannot carry out? He knows exactly what it is like to be human. He suffered all of the failings of the human body. He was weak with hunger and burdened with fatigue. He was even tempted just like we are. He knows all that we do and think every single moment of the day. He loves us anyway. It is with this intimate familiarity with our weakness and unfailing love that Jesus directs – Go, teach, and baptize.
It is not a burdensome requirement upon us to be performed in our own strength. It is God’s perfect plan for us as His willing servants.
We all start out uniquely as servants of God. We then each walk our own path with Jesus that can look very different than the guy next to us. Some of us start out like Paul, who was fearless in his ministry from the moment of salvation. He shared the Gospel with kings and tyrants with little hesitation. He seems to have no regard for his safety. This is the guy who we all seem to measure ourselves against. We forget that Paul was an exceptional man from the beginning. There is only one Apostle Paul.
There are many other great men and women of God who start out differently. Timothy, Pauls protege and the one he calls his true son in the faith is probably more of the norm. He appears by nature to have been timider. Timothy was not the natural open-air preacher. He needed to be taught how to do public ministry for Jesus. Paul is ready at all times to face down all those opposed the Gospel and to preach to thousands. Timothy needed to encouragement to deal with the church at Ephesus.
Timothy is not a bad Christian for his temperament. He is not a bad Christian for needing to learn. He is actually a great Christian for being fearful and trusting the Lord despite his own weakness, just like Paul. They both love Jesus and have a great love for the church. Timothy just needed more help from the Lord to overcome his fear and doubt in this area. Yet, God chose Timothy to accompany Paul, learn from him and to do the same public ministry as Paul.
God chose Timothy because he was willing to follow God, not because of Timothy’s natural talents.
God does not use only one type of personality to accomplish His purposes. He chooses those who are willing and those who love Him and His people. He then gives those servants whatever they need to carry out their calling. How does God do it? Look at the example in Timothy. God knows that Timothy tends to be timid so he is given Paul as his mentor. Paul encourages and teaches Timothy to be strong in the areas where he is weak.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. 2 Timothy 1:6-8
More importantly, God also gives Timothy the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. The Greek word translated “sound mind” involves the idea of peace and calm in the presence of panic. God indwells Timothy. It is God who provides the strength needed. The Holy Spirit is there to provide Timothy with the courage to speak boldly. Just like with Paul, it is God who does the work needed to bring others to Him. It just looks different with Timothy. God is there to bring peace and calm when fear starts to creep in. God’s perfect love casts out the fear.
Most of us start off more like Timothy than Paul. There are very few naturally gifted and fearless public speakers in the world. There are plenty of anxious but willing servants. God will use every last one of us. He does not leave any of us imprisoned by the limits of his natural disposition. He does not give an order that we cannot fulfill.
Are we are struggling with sharing our faith? If so, take heart as it is not unusual or permanent. Many great evangelists and workers for Jesus started off just like this. But our God never leaves us as He found us. He is always working to change us for the good. He would not order us to do something we cannot do.
Seek out those who are strong where you are weak. Trust in God’s Spirit in you. Let the Holy Spirit teach you how to be more like Paul. Let Him cast out all the fear that is holding you back. He will use all of us to carry out His calling of the world to Himself.
Preach the Word!