Let’s talk about stories.
Our salvation story isn’t just about the moment of deliverance through Jesus Christ. It isn’t about repeating that moment over and over as if the brilliance of it will somehow bring others to Christ. In a few circumstances maybe a dramatic testimony will. However, I think the biggest impression on those around us (other than a spiritual ‘slam-dunk’ by the Holy Spirit) will be the genuineness of our story and those people seeing the reality of Christ in our lives.
I remember once, before I became a Christian, having a lengthy conversation with my girlfriend at the time about her church and their use of the gifts of the Spirit. Out of nowhere came this, what seemed then an extraordinary conversation, about ‘speaking in tongues‘. I remember thinking that I’d stepped into a cult and very seriously thought about ending the relationship there and then. (I didn’t, and she – Kathi – became my wife, and I now have three amazing kids as well.)
Why did I react so badly to the idea of this particular gift of the Spirit? I don’t think the answer to this question had anything to do with speaking in tongues. It was more the fact that speaking in tongues, along with other things of a charismatic nature, had blown away my long held assumptions of what Christianity is, and what church should be like. Before this conversation my biggest impression of the church, though false, was this: white men in white frocks chanting like monks with the occasional liturgical phrase thrown in. (To be honest, I didn’t even know the word ‘liturgical’ meant!)
What I thought about church back then was probably quite similar to what a lot of people who haven’t grown up around ‘church’ have. The only time they ever attend church is for marriages, christenings and funerals (hatch, match, dispatch) with the occasional Christmas and Easter service thrown in every few years. Some folks may even only know Jesus as a swear word.
Our stories, therefore, must go before and beyond the salvation moment in our lives. What were we like before? Where do the connections with the person to whom you’re sharing your story appear, can they relate? Who are you now? What difference has Jesus made, and can this difference be seen in the ‘non-verbal’ part of your story? Has your life genuinely changed or is the curse of hypocrisy evident? Hypocrisy is the biggest complaint thrown at the church and, quite justifiably, stops people taking Christianity seriously. The only way to combat this is for our lives to line up with our words.
So if you are a Christian, where are you sharing your story? Have you even thought about your story? Why not take the time to consider the journey you are on? You may even find that as you form your story in your mind that there are indeed things that don’t line up with what you say, and this self-examination may help rectify the disconnect.
Our story of faith needs to be something we all can share with confidence and humbleness. Jesus commanded us to ‘make disciples of all nations‘ and if we don’t open our mouths and help others begin their own journey how will we ever be able to fulfil this command?