Whenever Tom tried to witness to his lost brother, a lump rose in his throat and panic caused his heart to race. William, Tom's brother, had a Ph.D. in philosophy and loved to argue about religion. That made Tom feel inadequate and just plain stupid.
William always raised questions about Christianity that Tom had never considered. So Tom quickly retreated, asking standby questions such as, "If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?"
William would immediately derail the conversation, asking: "How do you know that there's a heaven? How do you know that the Bible is any more valid than the Qur'an? If God truly loves us, why do innocent children suffer and die?"
The questions went on and on. Tom feared saying the wrong things. He also was afraid of appearing ignorant.
Finally, Tom worried that if he kept bringing up the subject of William's salvation, William would become offended and reject him. Tom didn't handle rejection very well, especially coming from his older brother. So he backed off completely from sharing his faith further.
Every one of us has flaws that can keep our loved ones from seeing Jesus in us. In Tom's case, the flaw was fear, and it created a wall that stood between him and his brother William.
Fear can become a stronghold in our lives, making it difficult for those we love to accept the good news. But there is hope! We can storm the gates and tear down the wall of fear that blocks our witness for Christ.
What do you fear most? Rejection? Appearing foolish? Being shamed by family members? Regardless of the nature of our fears, the power of God's Spirit can help us triumph over every one of them when witnessing to others (see 2 Tim. 1:7-8).
FEAR OF REJECTION Most of us enjoy being loved and affirmed by the significant people in our lives--family, colleagues at work and other believers. But we may feel that if we try one more time to witness, they will reject not only Christ but us as well.
If you have a fear of rejection, here are some ideas that may help:
Don't end communication. It's important to do everything possible to maintain a loving, positive relationship with all family members--saved or unsaved. We cannot be responsible for their rejection if we have done all we can to reach out with God's love and grace.
Jesus talked about the rejection that comes from being persecuted for righteousness' sake. His Word tells us we are blessed and rewarded as a result (see Matt. 5:11-12).
Even Jesus' family was estranged from Him (see Mark 3:32-35). Likewise, He predicted that some would completely reject us to the point that we might have to allow a broken relationship (see Mark 6:10-12).
Some believers take pride in having been rejected by unsaved family members. Yet, their rejection had nothing to do with boldly proclaiming Christ and everything to do with being self-righteous and downright obnoxious.
Such a witness does not glorify or honor Jesus. Be a humble, loving servant to your lost family members. Then if they reject you, they will also be rejecting the Suffering Servant whom you serve.
Don't stop trying--even if you are rejected. Jesus was rejected by everyone--including His disciples. Yet He still loved them enough to go to the cross for them.
We have to die to ourselves, to our expectations and to our own agendas when we experience rejection from our family members. Too often we want them saved in our way, at our convenience and for our glory. When things don't go according to our plans, we use their rejection as our excuse to quit.
Loving those who don't appreciate our wish for them to get saved is being like Jesus. Are you willing to follow the example of Christ on the cross? Dying to self is the key to overcoming rejection (see Gal. 2:20).
Don't reject them if they reject you. Our lost loved ones may reject us and break the relationship with us. Jesus said that people will be offended by Him and by those who follow Him (see Matt. 11:6).
Though family members may choose to break off the relationship, we must love them when they don't love us. And we must serve them even when they don't appreciate it (see Matt. 5:44).
THE FEAR OF SEEMING IGNORANT Remember Tom and his brother, William? Tom was intimidated by his brother's intellect, and he feared saying the wrong thing or not being able to answer his brother's questions. The truth is that none of us have all the answers for all the questions people may ask us.
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