Why I Don't Tell Everyone I'm a Christian
By Catiana Nak Kheiyn
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." —John 13:34-35Storm clouds darkened over our house, threatening torrential rain. I was about to take the kids out to run errands, then meet my parents for dinner. The car was backed up to the garage, and I opened the back door to load up donations for Goodwill. We had two other stops to make within the hour too. If we were going to make it on time to see my parents, we'd have to be diligent about keeping the tight schedule.
A middle-eastern woman came down the sidewalk, holding the hand of a young girl. She saw me and came up the driveway timidly. She clearly could not speak more than a few words of English, but she was also clearly upset and agitated about something. She showed me her brand new Colorado driver's license, pointed to her address, then gave me a look of despair. Obviously, she had somehow gotten lost while on a walk with her daughter.
The woman's home was not two blocks from my house, but even in trying to draw a map, I realized there was no communicating these directions through the language barrier. I instructed the kids to finish loading the donations and tried to motion to the lady that I would drive her home. She finally understood and got into the front seat with her daughter.
And then the rain came down in sheets.
I am not what one might call "outwardly Christian." That is, I don't wear a "Christian" label on my person, my house, my car, or anywhere else. I despise bashing people over the head with Bible verses or godly morals. Bringing up God in casual conversation is rarely ever my goal. And you will almost never hear me specifically quote Scripture outside of a discussion already laced with theology.
Does this make me a bad Christian? Am I keeping my faith a secret by not mentioning it to everyone I encounter? After all, Matthew 10:32-33 says, "Whoever confesses Me [Jesus] before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."
While I am well aware of Jesus' command to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19), I am also well aware that evangelism is not one of my strongest spiritual gifts. If I were to bang out the Gospel message to every girl who asked for life advice from me as their mentor, they would stop asking. If I were to wave the virtues of godly morals in the face of every non-Christian who disagreed with me, I would have no one standing within earshot of my soapbox. Beyond the written word, I don't know how to bring up the subject of eternal salvation without feeling like some shady religious salesman.
What I am gifted in is hospitality, mercy, discernment, and kindness. With these gifts, I extend love, safety, nurturing, and care to those whom God brings into my life. I'm trying to "do good to everyone" (Galatians 5:9-10) like the early church in the book of Acts. They were "highly regarded by the people" (Acts 5:13). And yes, they were also obeying God's command to "tell the people the full message of this new life" (v. 20). But it was a combination of their loving actions and sharing their faith that produced such wonderful spiritual fruit.
But as I said, I am no evangelist. I can count the number of times someone has prayed for salvation in my presence on one hand. I'm perfectly comfortable leaving Romans 10:14 to someone more articulate and outgoing than me.
However, the harvest is not the only aspect of living a Christian life. Seeds still need to be planted. Tiny sprouts still need to be watered. Growing leaves still need to be pruned and protected. That is where I'm gifted. I walk along the path with them to encourage, to care for, to love. I may not have set them on the path and may not be the one to see them to the end, but I'm a companion along the way, holding their hands to guide them and pointing out the light through the shadows.
The apostle Paul talks about this very thing in Ephesians 4:1-3, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Also see 1 Peter 3:15-16.) That is totally something I can do.
When I slipped into my car beside this poor, lost woman, she had tears in her eyes but a smile on her lips. As I started the windshield wipers to clear the pouring rain, I smiled back and told her it was going to be okay. She probably had no idea what I was saying, but I think she knew that her worry about being lost was over.
We drove a couple minutes in silence until we turned onto her street. Apartments came into view, and she made an exclamation, pointing to a man coming down the sidewalk in front. "Husband!" she said to me. I pulled over, and she called out the window to the man. He started toward us, and the woman turned to me, holding out her hands. I gave her a hug, she kissed my cheek, and then she was out in the rain, her daughter in her arms, joining her husband on the sidewalk.
One of the verses I live by is one spoken from Jesus' mouth in John 13:34-35: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Through my actions of caring, welcoming, and serving, God's love will shine though. I don't need to say anything. His love is enough to plant the seeds of hope. His love is enough to open a hardened heart.
Anyway, there's nothing I can do to make a person go to God. Remember what Jesus said in John 6:44? "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."
I never told the woman we drove home about Jesus. Never proclaimed my faith to her. But I feel like what happened in that span of less than 10 minutes will leave a lighted impression on her heart. It's a seed of God's love, of His kindness and mercy. She may not know where it originally came from, but God does, and He's the one who gives the seeds new life.
Image Credit: Andrew Ratto; "Rachell II"; Creative Commons
Tags: Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Personal-Life | Personal-Relationships | Witnessing-Evangelism
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