The Fear of Witnessing to Friends
Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 1/23/2008
What can we do to win our friends, our family and our neighbors to the Lord? We often hear sermons that attempt to encourage us to reach out to those around us and bring them to the Lord. After hearing one of these sermons, we may leave church with a burden to reach our lost friends. We may have a prayer on our heart asking the Lord to open up doors of opportunity to share the gospel with our friends. Then we go eat lunch, take our Sunday afternoon nap and watch the football game. We soon forget about the feelings the sermon invoked and by the time we see our friends, our motivation has waned and other things prevent us from following through.
One of the problems we face when sharing the gospel with others is fear. We may find that we fear many different things. Many people fear how their friends will react. Some people fear that their friends will ask questions for which they have no answer.
Fear of Friendís Reaction
The fear of how a friend will react is rooted in our need for social interaction. Most people find it difficult to survive without other people around them. While we may have a deep concern for our friends and desire for them to be saved, we fear losing our friends if we do something to offend them. A Christian may fear that his friend or his spouse will reject him if he begins to tell her about Jesus. When we have this fear, we may begin to feel guilty because it seems like it should be true that if we really love the person then we will be willing risk rejection. It is rather ironic because our love for the person or our desire to have relationship with the person is what makes it difficult for us to share the gospel. If we think rationally, we would conclude that having our friend with us in eternity far exceeds the risk of a broken relation here, but we cannot always force ourselves to think rationally.
While the argument can be made that a close friend or relative has a better chance of reaching a lost person, it is sometimes better for someone who is more distant from the person to share the gospel instead. This is helpful because the person who fears losing the friend if she shares the gospel with him will have no reason to fear rejection. The other Christian may not want to make an enemy by sharing the gospel, but it will be less stressful to this person because the loss of a friend would not be as great.
Sometimes, the best thing is to wait for a time when the lost person is seeking to gain information. Sharing the gospel isnít always about leading someone down the Roman Road or convincing him to pray the sinnerís prayer. Many times, sharing the gospel is more about the life we live, the way we react and an occasional comment in a conversation. People see how we live. They see how we react when we face difficult circumstances. They see our faith in action. Though some people wonít believe in God, though a man rose from the dead, the difference between the way a Christian friend reacts to things and how other people react can be quite compelling in showing people that there really is something different other than a desire to do good.
Fear of Unanswerable Questions
Some people fear that their friends will ask them questions for which they have no answer. The truth is that they probably will. Many lost people get hung up on things that donít really matter, but they may seem like the most important thing to the lost person. Questions like, since God and do anything, does that mean he can create a rock that he cannot lift? When compared against an eternity in hell, it really doesnít matter, but there are people who reject God because of things that seem to contradict the truth.
When needed, God can and does provide soul-winners with the words they need to say, but that doesnít mean that he is going to provide answers to silly questions. It is best to avoid such questions. Even if the lost person has an answer, it will not cause him to accept the gospel. Instead, he will probably have another question. Sometimes the best answer a soul-winner can give is to say, ďI donít know.Ē Sometimes it is better to say, ďIíll get back to you on that.Ē Having an answer for every question a lost person asks or making up an answer for every question can anger the lost person and there is nothing to be gained by it.
There is one answer that every soul-winner needs to know. Jesus is the way to heaven. He is the only way to heaven. Anyone who does not accept Jesus will go to hell for eternity. If we know that, there is no need to fear that we do not have enough knowledge to share the gospel.
Timothy Fish is the author of How to Become a Bible Character, a novel that deals with the topic of sharing the gospel with lost friends and family.