Years ago, if you asked me one word to describe the gospel, I would have told you necessary. I grew up going to church, so I thought I knew how to tell others about Christ. I was taught: Get up enough guts to talk to someone, sneak up on them so they can’t run away, then lay the gospel on them like a ton of bricks.
But I remember the first time I heard Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, talk of telling others about Christ. He told stories about leading a taxicab driver to Christ, meeting someone on an elevator and sharing the Good News, and of meeting someone in the grocery store and giving them a Four Spiritual Laws booklet that explained how to receive Christ.
The number of people he spoke to amazed me, but more amazing was the ease with which he presented his beliefs. He would meet a stranger, ask their name and other get-to-know you information, then he would ask the question, “Where are you spiritually?” When the stranger told Bill his or her religious beliefs or lack thereof, Bill would often ask, “Have you heard the wonderful news about the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
These two questions seemed so simple, so easy to answer.
The first question, “Where are you spiritually?” takes away all assuming on our part. It’s non-invasive because if they feel it’s a private matter, they don’t have to answer. We’re simply asking. Most of the time, however, people enjoy telling about themselves and their thoughts about God. And the way they answer tells us valuable information about where they stand spiritually. Just by listening, we know whether they are a believer or open to other thoughts. It’s open and non-threatening.
Their answer also will help us know whether to ask the second question. If they are not already Christians, we can inquire, “Have you heard the wonderful news about the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
Of the two questions, this struck me as the most powerful. The way Bill explained the gospel as the “wonderful news” about Jesus Christ made it sound, well, wonderful. In other words, to hear someone describe something as “wonderful” gives the idea that it is pleasant, something I would want to hear about. Imagine that—someone wanting to hear the news of Jesus Christ.
I forget sometimes that Jesus isn’t an idea that we push onto people for the purpose of having the biggest club in the history of the world. Receiving Christ gives them the key to their binding chains as well as the answer to the puzzles that plague their minds.
All my life I had been scared to death to tell people about Jesus for fear that I would come across as intolerant, unloving, close-minded. I didn’t want to push people away.
Two people who needed to hear the gospel
After I heard the questions to help tell others about Christ, I went home excited to start asking them. I decided to begin my newfound method with my friends at church. I won’t be able to explain the gospel to anyone who hasn’t already heard it, I told myself, because the only people at church are Christians. But it will be good practice.
Each month, our church hosted a meeting for any new members who wanted to come, so I decided to ask my questions there. I sat down at a table next to a woman named Cindy. She was pretty, dressed conservatively and smiled nicely. She’s a good one to start with, I thought.
We chatted, and I found out that Cindy was a beauty consultant who had just recently started coming to the church with her boyfriend, who was also new to the church.
After a little more surface discussion, I asked, “So where are you spiritually?”
“Oh, I’m not really religious,” Cindy said. “I just came because my boyfriend started talking about religion and I wanted to make him happy.”
I was flabbergasted by her casual response. I thought only Christians came to church.
“So have you heard the wonderful news of Jesus Christ?” I asked.
“No,” She admitted, “but I’m very interested. I’ve never been to church before, and everyone here seems very nice. I would like to hear about it.”
It was so simple, so easy. I didn’t have to hit her over the head with a ton of bricks; she actually wanted to know.
The same week, I went bowling with some Christian friends. One of the guys had brought a friend named Brian.
“So, Brian, where are you spiritually?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he responded. “I’m really not sure if I believe in God right now. I’ve been reading about other religions and trying to find out what I really believe.”
The rest of the evening, I was able to tell Brian about Jesus.
Unbelievable! I had been to two Christian activities in less than seven days, and had met two people who needed to hear the gospel.
The most fascinating part was that had I not asked the questions, I never would have known that either person was not a believer. They would have continued to go to church, be friends with Christians and fit right in. Even Brian’s friend was surprised to find out Brian wasn’t a Christian.
A profound change
Cindy and Brian were only the beginning of the people that I reached out to through the question, “Where are you spiritually?” Sometimes the people were strong believers, and we had inspiring conversations of God’s love and work in our lives.
For me, however, these questions were crucial and profound as they changed the way I talk to people about Christ.
It’s true that the gospel is necessary, but it is also a magnificent experience. Asking these simple questions isn’t hard when we understand the beauty of the information that we hold. We have the answer that people are looking for. We may be surprised by who has been waiting for the answer.
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