A Hard Confession
May 8, 2019 | by: Shea Oakley | 0 Comments
Posted in: Follow Up From Sermons
When I heard last Sunday’s message about our calling to be witnesses I found myself feeling challenged in a way I simply did not want to be challenged. That is the unfortunate truth and it has been this way for much of my Christian life. I hate being told to “step out of my comfort zone”, to take risks in sharing the Gospel, to be willing to suffer in taking those risks. The fact that virtually everything I heard was not only true, but true about me, doesn’t change how much resistance I feel to receiving and acting on that message. I’ve heard it preached at many times and in many ways throughout my years as a professed follower of Christ, and it never seems to get any easier to hear.
By this I do not mean I’ve never been a witness to people. In one sense I’ve witnessed to many, especially though 17 years of Christian writing and 7 years of on-line Christian coaching. I have had the privilege to impact lives with the help of the Holy Spirit. I have been able to lead some people to Christ.
The problem is that both the writing and the coaching are, to a large degree, anonymous. Both have rarely involved putting me in the uncomfortable position of trying to tell someone about Christ, who He is and what He’s done for me, face to face.
Here is a recent example: Kat and I have a next-door neighbor who is dealing with a third recurrence of Cancer. I fear this bout might be his last. He and his wife have lived next to us for several years, but we barely know each other. We do know that he is a man of good will though, most recently proven when he jump-started my car on a frigid winter’s night, and a courageous man (he is a professional fire-fighter).
I felt a strong sense of urgency to tell him about the hope I have in Jesus, but I must confess that too much of the urge came from not wanting to have to explain to God someday why an aspiring pastor didn’t bother to do more than pray for a possibly dying man. How’s that for wrong motivation? So we bought him and his wife a fruit-basket and I attached a copy of my written testimony along with a small note saying we were praying for them, asking him to read it, and giving him my contact information. Kat then dropped it on their doorstep (I didn’t even have the courage to do that).
We gave them that basket nearly a month ago. We have not heard a thing from them and I have not followed up. Why?
The answer is simple; really, I do not want to be rejected. I’ve been rejected a lot in my life for reasons totally unrelated to my faith and I don’t feel like being rejected again. The silence from next door tells me that the testimony probably was not well received and I do not want to push it one bit more. Wasn’t sending the basket and the testimony enough? At least that is what I try to tell myself.
Unfortunately the bottom line is this: I’m afraid to follow up. In fact there are few things right now, as I sit here in front of my computer, that I less want to do. Yet what if I’d gone over there right from the start and personally handed him that basket? What if I’d had the courage to talk to my desperately sick neighbor face to face?
The truth of the matter is I most likely still can, but I feel like I’ve already blown it. I’ve allowed fear, and at least partially wrong motivation, to keep me from acting in exactly the kind of “outside our comfort zone” boldness that Chris is absolutely right in saying we who call ourselves Christians sometimes need to do.
How long will I hear these kinds of messages and still resist doing for others what God clearly wants me to do out of both obedience to him and love for others? How long will I let self-protection be an idol in my life? I wish that I knew that answer as I write these words.