In November I flew to Maine for a spiritual retreat. My seat buddy, Deidre, was decked out in outdoor gear and hiking boots. She was energetic and young, so I was little surprised to discover she had been visiting her grandchildren in another part of the country. Deidre told me about her and her husband Ron owning an outdoor hunting, fishing and recreation business. But then, Deidre began to talk about what God was doing in her life. She loved Jesus, but Deidre wasn’t your typical cradle to grave Christians. Her faith was big, wide and refreshing. Prayer was a huge part of it. Prayers for her kids and her extended family. Deidre even mentioned the Lord’s prayer and how meaningful it was in her childhood -raised Roman Catholic. Her story fresh, her faith relevant, God was moving in her life, right here, right now. What a gift!
I learned from Deidre that sharing our Jesus story isn’t so much about something that happened to us many, many years ago, but rather sharing a faith that is current—today, what is God doing in your life today! If we’re going to take the message of Jesus out where we live we’re gonna need to learn how to sound a little less polished and a lot more contagious.
What’s Your Story?
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man (JESUS) is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. (John 9:24-34 NIV)
What the what? One of the many Sabbath rules was NO kneading- dough, mud, really anything. The Pharisees were furious! They were already a bit skeptical of Jesus, but now, now many in the group wanted him gone. The Pharisees interrogated the healed guy, even questioned his parents, when all that didn’t work. They went back and questioned the guy once again! Friends, I trust that if we sift through this grown-man altercation we’re going discover a new way to share our Jesus stories.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Sometimes when I ask people to share their Jesus story they immediately go back to a time when they said a prayer, decided to follow or in some kind of way figured this Jesus stuff out. The conversation becomes a little more formal, structured, like there’s some kind of formula to it. Some folk treat sharing their Jesus story as a game to be won, rather than love overflowing from their daily lives. In these attempts at sharing we think that we are called to share our beliefs, our theological opinions, our truths. Jesus didn’t recommend any of that, Jesus asked for our stories: We’ve forgotten how simple sharing our story really can be: I WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE.
Sharing our story really should and could be as natural as breathing. We’ve got to let go of an old paradigm. Whether it’s the old notion that your story doesn’t matter or that you’re too introverted to speak up or that you’ve somehow drilled in your head that your story isn’t big enough. Let go of that old paradigm and keep it simple! Our world needs a simply stated, contagious Christianity! One that demonstrates the movement and love of God today! Right here, right now.
EMBRACE YOUR NOW
I God is at work in your life every single day. Folk who are EVEN remotely curious about faith, will want to know how that works. How is it, that by following Jesus every single day– your life will be impacted? Not some kind of get out of hell free card. Rather this is what I was going through and this is how Jesus has re-shaped it, healed it, forgiven it, calmed it, recovered it.
Go back with me to the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit filled those Jesus followers in Acts 2:6-7, and they didn’t have a formula or any formal training. But a bit later in the next chapter we hear Peter simply sharing what Jesus had given him with another man, a paraplegic: Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. Nothing fancy – just letting God do what God does when we speak our faith out loud.
Here are a few ways to embrace your now:
Share weekly God-sightings with a group of friends.
Keep a daily gratitude journal.
End each day with a reflective prayer as you ponder God’s intersection with your life.
Maybe you’ll discover that Jesus has been peace in the middle of a relational conflict, comfort as you are attempting to wade through grief, confidence in the face of a fear-ridden situation at work, or a constant companion as you are making your way through cancer treatments. Today, it’s what’s happening in your life right here, right now! Embrace your now story!
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
My husband Jon and I have practice of opening our table–our literal dining room table. On “Open Table” nights, anyone is welcome. Bring something to share and come on in. One afternoon we were in walking in our neighborhood and bumped into a young couple. We got into conversation about the neighborhood, about our kids, and we just simply invited them over Open Table. They didn’t come right away, but then several weeks later they showed up, and again, and again. It wasn’t until they were actually in our home that they discovered that I was a pastor. It just didn’t come up. But what we didn’t know, what we couldn’t know was that God was working in their lives. Hear what Shawna has to say:
“I was blind, but now I see.”
Rachel Billups Ginghamsburg Senior Pastor firstname.lastname@example.org