BY KIRK WALDEN–When we consider talking about our faith, we can be intimidated. I am, that’s for sure.
We–and I’m talking about “me” here–come up with hundreds of reasons why we can’t effectively share what we believe. Here are a few:
“I don’t know enough yet.”
“I might get something wrong.”
“There might be some difficult questions I can’t answer.”
“It might strain the relationship.”
“If I can just get some good training on this topic, I’d probably do a lot better.”
So, we (I) wait. To avoid this uncomfortable truth about our own shortcomings, we do things to express our faith. We are great in groups, so we go to church and we participate in church projects. We even talk about our faith on social media. These are good, certainly. They are also relatively safe. But when it comes down to those one on one moments which aren’t easy, we’re reticent.
We’re so reluctant to share our hope, experts on evangelism study us. One article out there tells us more than 90 percent of “Evangelistic Christians”–whatever that means–have never talked about faith to a next-door neighbor.
It’s almost as if many of us have reached the point where we will share our faith . . . when pigs fly.
That’s why you see the headline up there.
Because, I believe pigs fly. Or at least, it happened once. And it shows how easy it should be–can be–to talk about my faith.
Allow me to explain, because you probably remember the story–though the “flying” part may not jump out at you. I’m here to help. It’s my superpower (I saw Incredibles 2 the other night and figured this out). Read on.
Remember the narrative in the Book of Mark, where a man in the country of the Gerasenes is possessed by a legion of demons? It’s a joyful little tale of a raging maniac. Read it to your young children at night. Before bedtime.
A quick refresher, before we get to the “pigs fly” stuff: Jesus stills a raging storm on the water in Mark 4. Reaching the other side of the sea in the 5th chapter of Mark, he enters the country of the Garasenes, a gentile (non-Jewish) community.
Fresh off the boat, Jesus is confronted by this crazy, possessed man who breaks shackles meant to contain him and basically terrorizes the neighborhood. Just spit-balling here, but he probably didn’t get many invites to parties.
The demons, making their home in the man, realize Jesus is the son of God. They don’t want to be destroyed, so they beg Jesus to toss them into a herd of pigs. Jesus agrees, the demons enter the pigs and they fly into the ocean, drowning themselves.
Okay, the pigs’ flight is a short one. “Air Bacon” never took off as an airline. But, they flew!
This is a stunning moment for everyone. Those in attendance, after seeing a miracle, asked Jesus to hit the road. Or, in this case, the water.
Why? It’s likely because those pigs were valuable, and the Garasene people weren’t happy to see their livelihood tossed into the sea.
As for the former demoniac, he asked to join Jesus in the boat. Wouldn’t any of us do the same? It only makes sense to follow the one who changed our life, right?
And, it would only make sense that Jesus, being benevolent, would take the man’s hand and welcome him to the team. Yet, Jesus did the opposite.
We read in Mark 5:19, Jesus did not let him. Instead, Jesus tells the man to go and tell his people what happened, and who healed him. This is exactly what the man did, proclaiming “what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone marveled (Mark 5:20).”
Aha. This says something to us.
Wait a second here. This man has no theological training, no idea of what “evangelism” might look like. All he knows is that Jesus is the son of God (thanks, demons, for pointing this out), and that Jesus calls himself “lord;”a word having multiple meanings then, and even today.
In short, this man had almost zero to work with. Oh, and he also had quite a checkered past, if we count the small matter of a gazillion demons.
Sometimes, we get caught in the lie that we aren’t smart enough, that we don’t know the best wording to communicate a message of hope, or that we need extensive training before we can effectively connect people with the hope we know.
Training is wonderful. A strong understanding of what we believe is worth pursuing.
But if we keep waiting for more learning or more training, we will eventually tell ourselves we’ll only share our faith “When Pigs Fly.” Well, pigs do fly. And the flight of pigs opened the door for a man to tell his story.
But look what he shared: His story. That’s it, and apparently his story–short as it was–was more than enough to convince a lot of people to change their thinking about Jesus.
I don’t need to know everything. I don’t need the right words, the right theological constructs and I don’t even need some tried and true method to help someone take the next step of faith.
All I need is my story. According to Jesus (who probably knows what he’s talking about) this is plenty. So perhaps the next time an opportunity to talk about my hope presents itself, I’ll begin . . . with a story.
Want to Connect? Find me on Instagram and Twitter as @KirkWalden