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Written by Rev. B. Keith Haney for “The Light Breaks Through” @ https://revheadpin.org/
Original post @ https://revheadpin.org/2017/02/03/difficult-faith-conversations/
Having That Difficult Faith Conversation
Chances are you have friends, co-workers even people in your family that have drifted from the faith. You care deeply about them, and you feel this great sense of responsibility for their fate. That burden mixed with guilt and an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy puts added pressure on the relationship. You are not a trained theology. Where can you find a mission expert when you need one to speak to the heart of that loved one on your behalf? The following modern day parable may be your story.
These two women had been friends since they first met in a sandbox as little girls. They came from two different backgrounds. Teresa’s father was a minister as was his father before him. It was like they came over on the boat from England already converted. Ellen’s family had a different view of God. Due to an incident with Ellen’s grandmother where she got pregnant out of wedlock and the church seemed to not only not be there for her but was very judgmental, they had sworn off all contact with so-called hypocritical followers of Jesus Christ. She saw none of the forgiveness the Church espoused, where was her second chance she wondered? Teresa knew of the hurt her friend’s family faced, so she thought it just better never to broach the subject, she valued the friendship far too much to upset the apple cart. She chose instead just to make sure she never came across like the other Christians who seemed fake and judgmental.
Teresa and Ellen never left their small little town except for brief interrupts of college and job relocations. Even through all those difficult transitions, they remained in touch. Teresa was there through Ellen’s miscarriage, the death of her parents, a messy divorce and a daughter dealing, with drug addiction. Through, it all Teresa just reminded her of their friendship and promised that she would always be there for her. Many a time she wanted to share with her the hope she had through her faith in Christ Jesus but the time never seemed quite right. The tape of all the issues the family had with the church kept playing in her head. She would wrestle with the questions, “Do I tell her about Jesus, it could be a source of strength for her, but I know how the church has hurt her. I don’t want to anger her or put more weight on her already overtaxed shoulders. I will wait for a better time.” A better time never came, and both ladies died. They were standing before God on judgment day. As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans, We will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,“As I live, so I promise,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow down to Me. Every tongue will confess to God.”
It was at that moment Ellen realized all that she has resisted and ignored about faith, God, and Jesus were wrong. She turned to her friend who she knows was a follower and asked the tough question, “Teresa you said you were my friend, you knew I didn’t believe and knew this would be my fate, why didn’t you tell me I was wrong?”
And Teresa’s reply was, “I didn’t want to lose your friendship and love.”
Right about now you are probably feeling convicted, so I am. I know many people in my life I should have share the story of salvation with and did not for some of the same reasons Teresa didn’t. The time never seemed right. Or the I valued the relationship too much. However, this parable begs the question, “Were my reasons and my lack of action-loving?” Probably not, even though my intentions were good.
God desires to bring those outside his grace back. From Ezekiel, 11 Tell them, “As I live,” says the Eternal Lord, “I don’t enjoy watching the wicked die; I want the wicked to stop doing what they’re doing and live! Repent! Turn from your wicked ways. Why would you choose to die instead of live, people of Israel?”
Now let me be very clear. I know we can’t save anyone. That is all the work of the Holy Spirit. I also realize that we are not God’s only option to communicate the gospel. He can and will use other means because the stakes are just that high. What I am saying is you have an advantage. You have the built the relationship, you have through time and adversity earned their trust. They know your heart and believe your motives are good, right and honorable and have observed your witness, now God has placed you in a unique position to be a very convincing and credible seed planter. So even though we can’t produce faith, we can’t save anyone our task is to plant the seed. God ‘s responsibility is to water it and make it grow.
So how do we become better seed planters? According to Ecclesiastes 8: 6a, “There is a proper time and procedure for every matter.” Pray that God begins to incline our spiritual ears toward heaven and trains our other ear on the person in front of us. Look for those moments that the Holy Spirit provides to interject gospel seeds into the conversation. I know the fear is what if I say the wrong thing and mess this up. Just tell your story. How has God been there for you in life? What lessons has faith taught you? How has God provided comfort in the midst of your trials? Offer to pray for them and with them. As you prepare for those opportunities, know the God’s word does not return void it accomplishes its task. Until the opportunity arises be ready to testify to the hope, we have in Christ Jesus. From 1 Peter 3,“But happy are you, even if you suffer because of righteousness! Don’t be terrified or upset by them. Instead, regard Christ as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it.”
P.S. (from bruce) Here is a link to help you plant the seed, with this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… http://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/
Picture credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/515802963542483755/