The Floating Gospel
When it comes to nudging our friends towards Jesus, many of us try to negotiate a perilous tightrope walk. Full of fear and excitement, we slowly balance on the cable trying to avoid the pitfalls of complacency on one side and relationship destroying aggressiveness on the other. Helping people to discover the love and forgiveness of God is a passion of mine. A friend of mine named John came to one of my courses and was able to find his sweet spot– a healthy and effective place where he could be himself and still have an impact for the kingdom.
Although loved by his students, John’s fellow teachers avoided him in the break room as if the CDC had warned them that he had an infectious disease. Sitting down with his lunch, one by one the teachers would leave the room, suddenly remembering that they had copies to make, tests to prepare or meetings to attend.
John’s challenges were two-fold: Number one; he loved Jesus. Number two; he didn’t know how to contain his love for Jesus. Really, who wants to have lunch with Billy Graham every day of the school year?
John and I met together for a few months. I showed him some of the nuggets of wisdom that God has shared with me about helping people to move towards Jesus. I taught him about the gentle and respectful part of sharing Jesus with the people around us. He listened, learned, and shortly after our training concluded, John was assigned to mentor a new teacher to their school. John met the new teacher in his office. They shared about themselves, their teaching adventures and then the new teacher inquired about the floating screensaver on John’s computer, “What’s that?” John glanced at the screensaver and realized that his favorite Bible verse was floating across the screen. John lowered his eyes, hung his head and deeply hoped that this new teacher wouldn’t vote him off of his relational island for his beliefs like the others had. A tension exploded inside him. He thought to himself, “I have an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus.” He silently argued against himself, “Every person I seem to share the gospel with runs away.”
He took a deep breath and decided to put some of his new training into practice, smiling he gave this new teacher an exit strategy by saying, “Well, that screensaver represents something that I’m really excited about. And sometimes, when I’m excited about something, I get going and I can’t stop. So, at anytime in my explanation you feel like you’ve had enough, just put your hands up and say, ‘enough,’ and I’ll stop.”
The young teacher apparently felt safe enough for this journey into the mystery of the screensaver. John smiled again and shared with enthusiasm about this Jesus that He loved so much. He told his about his old life, what Jesus had done for him, and the new changes of peace, joy, and hope that now function as the new operating system of his heart. Although standing in the same spot, the wide-eyed teacher seemed to be standing five feet further back than he had begun. The new teacher held up his hands as if to stop a run away bus and said, “Enough.”
John was so disappointed. “You did it again!” he silently shouted at himself. John felt like a failure.
Over the coming months, the new teacher was cordial, but maintained a safe relational distance from him. Some time later, the new teacher came to John’s office and asked to speak with him for a moment. John agreed, sat down in his swivel chair and listened with great curiosity.
The teacher pointed at the computer and began, “Over a year ago, I stood in this office and listened as you explained to me your beliefs about your relationship with God. You talked a lot about Jesus. I listened cautiously and thought it wise to keep my eye on you. I’ve been watching your life over the past year and I have made a decision.”
John’s heart beat faster. He thought to himself, “What verdict would this one person jury render about how well his life matched his words about the gospel?”
The young teacher took a deep breath and said, “Your life demonstrates that you really believe what you said you believe. I want what you have. Can you help me to know God the same way that you know Him?”
John was shocked and elated! That day in his office, John helped his teacher friend to begin a relationship with Jesus. Wiping the tears from his eyes, this new child of God said, “Thank you,” to John, shook his hand and left his office.
John was brimming with joy and as his friend walked down the hallway, the words of I Peter 3:16 echoed through his mind, “But do this with gentleness and respect.”
I am so encouraged by stories like John’s. I love hearing how God is using people like you, the everyday heroes in our world, to help their family and friends to discover the love and forgiveness of our God!
Would you please share a short story about how God has used YOU to nudge someone towards Jesus?
Looking forward to continuing the journey together.
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