The Baker Blog
Pastor Mike Baker Of Eastview Christian Church 2017
Gently Extremist

In their book “Good Faith”, authors David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons reveal that according to their research (Barna), “60 percent of all adults in America and 83 percent of atheists and agnostics believe evangelism- one of the central actions of Christian conviction – is extremist” (p. 41). This is why many Christians are so intimidated when it comes to sharing the good news. The world insists on the rights of everyone to determine their own set of rights and wrongs – their own belief system, meaning that anyone who would dare to impose their set of beliefs on another is extremist. Ironically, the only wrong thing you can do in this culture is to tell someone else they are wrong.   

So, how do we as Christians engage this culture with the truth of God’s word and message? Gently. That’s the word used in I Peter 3:15 instructing us on how we should be ready to give a defense to anyone for the hope we have in Jesus. Do it “…with gentleness and respect.” I suspect that many non-Christians have encountered and been offended by overzealous street-preacher types or loud and condemning Christian activists. I often think they are extremist too. Still, the message we have is true – and worth sharing, so we have to evangelize (literally tell good news). Here are some ways I’m discovering that are easy, yet so blatantly obvious in today’s culture.

1. Publicly read and display your Bible in public. Bible apps on your iPhone are fine, but they won’t have the same social impact as when you open up the pages of your hard copy Bible and place it on the table of your favorite coffee shop. Everyone (yes everyone) notices. Sometimes Christians will give an encouraging word to you about how refreshing it is to see someone reading the Bible. Often strangers will ask what you’re reading. Always, people are aware of a spiritual presence. Because of the power of the Holy Spirit I believe you can change the spiritual climate of your classroom, office, worksite, and public place with the simple presence of the Scriptures. Try it.

2. Praying in public. I don’t believe that you have to pray before every meal or the food consumed will somehow be condemned and you will get sick. I don’t believe that Jesus will get mad at you if you don’t bow your heads and close your eyes. A joyful and grateful heart doesn’t have to express itself with a “dear Father in heaven”. Don’t get me wrong. We should pray all the time. So mealtime is a good time to reflect on his provision. But I think there is an added benefit these days. Praying in public is so rare that it’s noticeable. As a Christian, eating in public gives me an incredible opportunity to be visible with my faith. I don’t rush before the server gets there, I often intentionally wait until I know the waiter is coming to the table – hoping they will have to interrupt me. Sometimes, I even ask them if they have something they need prayer for. But if that’s too radical for you, just pray. This simple act will be noticed and God will use it. Try it.

3. Saying “God bless you”. It happened quite by accident, I didn’t transition from my church world language of “God bless you” to my world language of “have a good day”, so when the barista handed me my coffee, I blurted out “God bless you”. I don’t know who was more shocked, me or him. But in the end, he smiled. So, I’ve chucked “have a great day” for “God bless you” and the response has been great. Some have returned the blessing. Some have said thanks in a sincere kind of way. Others are flustered since most of their responses are just reflexive. “you….too….”, they mumble. No one has told me to take the blessing back or gotten mad that I dare talk to God about them. So I keep saying it because it’s a gentle way to gets God’s name into whatever setting I’m in. Try it.

I’m sure there are other ways to gently introduce our faith into our everyday experiences and the people we encounter there. But these three are a good start. If the world sees evangelism as extremist, then we just need to be gently extreme. And by God’s power we can. Go ahead, try it.

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