Most of us are visual learners. If you have a friend that is active in sharing their faith, I’d encourage you to
spend time with them, listen and watch how they communicate. Of course the best example of sharing faith, is
Jesus. There are vast insights, principles and truths to be understood from a study on faith sharing in the
Gospels; and not just knowledge, but wisdom from the Spirit that is revealed. Looking at Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well is a great start.
John writes, “Now he had to go through Samaria” (John. 4:4).
Jesus had a need and a plan. Many Jews went around Samaria to avoid it. Therefore, it wasn’t geographically necessary for Jesus to pass through there. There was a deep rift between the Jews and the Samaritans rooted in different views of faith and culture. Disdain and hatred were common between the two peoples. Principle 1: Jesus goes to the people that the others avoided.
The humanity of Jesus comes through clearly in this passage – Jesus is tired and thirsty as he rests by Jacob’s well. It’s high noon and Jesus is alone when the Samaritan woman comes and he asks her for a drink. In our culture of independence, we are often reticent to ask others for help, even people within our "group," much less a stranger.
I have seen many groups circle the wagons when doing church work, not allowing others to join in. In your church experience, which comes first: Belonging or believing? I would suggest that people come to authentic faith in Christ more easily when the community welcomes them in, before they believe.
Principle 2: Jesus invites help from people whose faith is unsure.
Jesus creatively changes the subject from the division between the Jews and Samaritans to spiritual realities, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John. 4:10). There is no shortage of negative and depressing news around the topic of faith and religion. We can redirect conversations to more positive topics and truths. Yes, there are hypocrites in the church, but don’t you think there are more people who are trying to do the right thing and admit it when they fall short?
Jesus points people to himself, and rightly so. He’s the Savior! The Son of God! “The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John. 4:14b). So, we point people to Christ! We ask questions like, “What do you think of Jesus and his teachings?” “Are you aware of his amazing
claims, like offering eternal life to those who put their trust in him and being one with God the Father?”
C. S. Lewis boldly confronts those who try to put Jesus on the same level as other teachers in his classic book Mere Christianity,
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was,
and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
We’re trying to shake people a bit, because too many are content minimizing Christ as a teacher or even a prophet. Sometimes people try to dismiss the whole story. I love to help them consider again. We have
eyewitness accounts from people who saw Jesus, his teachings, his miracles, his resurrection! It would have
been cool if they recorded it on video . . . but all they had were their voices plus pen and paper; and they are
shouting to us across the centuries, "God has sent us a Savior! God has made Himself known . . . he died for
us and is risen from the dead!"
Principle 3: Be positive and winsome, gradually moving the conversation to talk about Jesus.
Jesus brings up a difficult topic with the Samaritan woman, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband” (John 4:17). Many
people interpret this passage as Jesus revealing her immorality. I disagree. A woman in the 1 st century who
had five husbands is a woman who has been serially mistreated and discarded. Women did not have any
power to divorce, only the men did. I go with the theory that she was barren and was therefore of no value in
the selfish eyes of her multiple husbands. She was a desperate woman. This also explains why she is getting
water in the hottest part of the day, to avoid seeing other women. Almost everyone in our day understands the language of brokenness. So many young people today are crying out for healing. Jesus’ compassion for the hurting, sick and burdened brings real hope and help to people today – but they must hear of Jesus.
We also need to talk to people about sin and God’s law, clear Biblical truths and I would suggest some are even self-evident truths. As we tell unbelievers that they need Jesus, they perceive us saying: “Here is some medicine, it will cure you, it is free!” All the while, they are thinking, "Thanks, but I’m not sick." John Wesley told his preachers to preach the Law and the Gospel! The Law referred to Jesus’
commandments, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Seedbed, an online ministry, has a great article on this this topic HERE.
When we see we have fallen short of God’s standard, that we have rebelled against God’s goodness and love,
the Holy Spirit brings conviction and we begin to know our need for a Savior.
Principle 4: Share God’s good standards, God’s Law and share God’s amazing love seen in Christ laying down his life for us. “Law to the proud and grace to the humble,” is how Evangelist Ray Comfort sees Jesus sharing with people. I think he is right. The Samaritan woman changes the subject when things get too personal and she brings up a well known religious debate between the Samaritans and the Jews: Where is the right place to worship? Jesus, never gets bogged down in controversy, he has answers that transcend the options, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John. 4:23-24).
Therefore, the location of worship isn’t the issue, it is how we worship! As you share Christ, be prepared for distractions and smoke screens, but also for honest debate. Some of the topics people bring up are: hypocrisy in the church, the church just wants your money, validity of other faiths, and the question of salvation for those who have never heard the gospel. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t try to make something up. Just say, “I don’t know, I’ll research that. Good question.” I always bring conversations back to what we know of Christ and his resurrection. If he really did rise from the dead, it’s the most important event in the history of the world, don’t you think?
Principle 5: Don’t get pulled too far into side issues, deal with them honestly, but come back to the main topic: Jesus, His life, teachings, claims, death and resurrection. Jesus changes the focus of her question from where we worship to what kind of worshippers God is seeking, and this prompts the Samaritan woman to speak of the Messiah. Jesus tells her plainly that he is the Messiah and her faith comes alive. In the next newsletter I’ll pick up here on helping someone to put their faith in Christ and call on him for salvation.
Here are some illuminating questions to go with each of the 5 Principles above. I’d encourage you to ask them of yourself, of your family and of your church:
1. Do I/we interact with people of other cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds? If not, why
2. Is there a place of welcome for atheists, agnostics and people of other faiths in my/our lives? If not,
3. Am I/are we positive and hopeful as I am in conversation with people and as I witness to them? If not,
why not? Am I/are we able to naturally bring Jesus into conversations?
4. Do I/we communicate with confidence that God’s standards (Laws) are good? Am I/are we able to
talk about sin in such a way that people understand? Do I/we have some excitement about sharing the
love of God in Christ with others?
5. Am I/are we able to deal with honest inquiry and critiques on a variety of topics and still come back to
the main topic, Christ?
**I am available to train churches in evangelism and basic apologetics face to face or via Zoom.