Who God is,
how much He loves us and what it means to follow Him (both the benefits and what He may ask us to give up or to do – but always for our good) until someone is ready to offer their lives to God.
If we talk to a person for the first time, present the gospel and expect them to become a Christian then they will not have a solid basis on which to make that decision. However, there may be times when we come across someone who is so very sick of their lifestyle, their sin, that they are ready to give anything a go.
But, if we have conversations in a relaxed manner with a friend, a work colleague or a sporting mate then we can continue teaching as Holy Spirit guides us. Keep talking and teaching with kindness, gentleness and respect with relaxed conversations.
Always be loving – Always
When Idi Amin was president of Uganda he killed many Christians. The Bishop of Uganda was on his hatred and hit list. Someone asked the Bishop: “If you were in a crowded room and you had a pistol on you; then when you turned around and were face to face with Idi Amin would you shoot him?”
The bishop replied: “No. That is his weapon, not mine. My weapon is love.” So, let’s have the same attitude and use love as our ‘weapon’.
What is God’s goal?
It is God’s intention that people get to know Him; and get to know Him very well. He wants us to develop His character. His characteristics include:
- ✓ Holiness
- ✓ Valuing people highly; looking to their best interests
- ✓ Living with a servant attitude; serving people
- ✓ Purity. Sexual purity, but more than that – seeing people as wonderful people and not as objects to be used for our own gain
- ✓ Seeing the potential in people. Gideon is one of the best examples in the Bible of this
Gideon was afraid and sifting his wheat in a wine press (underground, out of sight). He was afraid the enemy would come and take his harvest. This was a legitimate fear as they would have done just that. But God spoke to him and called him “Mighty Warrior”.
Peter is another great example. He was a bungling disciple. But Jesus called him “rock” Peter became one of the leading apostles on whom He based and started His church.
- ✓ Humility. It is easy to perceive God as all powerful and domineering. He is all powerful and He does judge. But His grace over-rides His judgement – at least at this stage of His great plan. We live in a period of grace. God is very keen to have people live with Him. He is keen to forgive and welcome us as we are. When Jesus walked this earth, the people who liked to hang out with him were not the religious and political leaders; it was the disadvantaged, the lost, the poor, the broken, those whom He had freed from addictions and low self-esteem. Jesus is now very happy to mix and mingle with similar people today. He happily comes down to our level and is in the process of raising us up to His level.
- ✓ Love. Not a mushy, Hollywood style of love that is based on the emotion of how the other person makes me feel. But rather, a love of commitment, as defined in 1 Corinthians 13.
God is a God of commitment; He is committed to our best. And He wants us to be committed in our relationships for the best of other people. God is a covenant God. He wants us to emulate Him and His love. This is God’s version of love:
“Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 TPT
“This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 PHILLIPS
- ✓ Joy. A lightness of spirit, of the inner person. Not a heaviness or bitterness or holding of grudges or remembering what wrongs others have done to us. But the freedom that comes from forgiveness
- ✓ Peace. As compared with tension, anxiety and anger. Casting all our care on God leads to peace
- Giving Him our anxieties and troubles leads to the peace of God. As expressed in Philippians 4:6-7
- ✓ Patience. What a wonderful characteristic to have. Far better than constantly being annoyed at other people and their stupid actions or comments
- ✓ Kindness. Another wonderful characteristic
- ✓ Goodness. Likewise
- ✓ Faithfulness. God is utterly reliable. His word can be depended on – absolutely. He wants us to be reliable and faithful to our word as well
- ✓ Gentleness. Another wonderful characteristic
- ✓ Self-control. This is a character trait that many people want. It is part of God’s nature that He is keen to share this with us
- ✓ Servant. When Jesus walked this earth He had a serving attitude. He not only served us by dying in our place, but He healed those with diseases, fed the hungry, loved the lonely and outcast, taught the uneducated. He is now asking us to do the same
After He had risen Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
These are some of the characteristics he would like us to help people develop as they become His disciples. It is not our role to bring people into our culture. It is our role to bring people into the Kingdom of God.
It is God’s desire to transform people from one set of characteristics to another. Here is a couple of lists based on Galatians 5.
- From sexual immorality to; Divine love
- From lustful thoughts to; Joy that overflows
- From pornography to; Purity and rich relationships
- From chasing after things to; Patience that endures
- From manipulating people to; Kindness in action
- From Hatred of those who get in your way to; A life full of virtue
- From senseless arguments to; Faith that prevails
- From resentment to ; Gentleness of heart
- From temper tantrums to; Strength of spirit
- From angry quarrels to; Peace that soothes
- From only thinking of yourself to; Giving of your life to others
- From being in love with your own opinions to; Listening to others – genuine listening
- From being envious of others blessings to; A rich inner contentment
- From murder to; A great love for others
- From uncontrolled addictions to; Ability to control thoughts & actions
- From wild parties to; Satisfaction in the inner person
It is unlikely that anyone we come across starts with all the left hand list. So I would not share this as a tool to convince or persuade people from one lifestyle to another. However, you may gather some ideas from it to use as part of a conversation.