Today I was out with two of my teammates sharing with a really fascinating lady we had previously met. She was very willing to talk about religion even though she is a self-proclaimed atheist. I think my tendency once someone turns me away is to just drop the issue and leave it. Certainly there are times where that is the most appropriate thing to do, but today one of my teammates pressed on. While there was no physical interaction, I imagine what he was doing a little bit like he grabbed her by the shoulders, shook her back and forth and yelled, “Life, life, eternal life!” I’m fairly certain this is a quote from Pilgrim’s Progress, but in a much different circumstance. Whatever the case it gives me pause as to the firmness with which I share. The boldness in which I preach.
1. The Almighty Glorious God vs. Impotent Idols
I live in a culture where household gods are very common. In fact most businesses have a small idol of some sort somewhere in the shop, or restaurant or whatever, and food is sacrificed regularly. By their own admission very few people believe in these, but they say they’re afraid not to — after all, what if they did have power and they weren’t being appeased?
I’ve shared before that often I’ll open my Bible and turn to Isaiah 44.:13-19 I’ll point them to the verses and have them read them. Aloud.
“The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, ‘Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!’ And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’ They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, ‘Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’ “Now in my context this is a little more obvious than perhaps in the American context. but it applies similarly there. People are bowing down to the idols of materialism, or if you’re in High School, popularity or if you're in business, power, or whatever it is. All of these things are impotent.
Now lets talk about the power of God. Our God created the universe. Created the world. Created the trees, the rivers, the oceans, and what I think best displays his power — the mountains. Water runs through streams and rivers and causes canyons and valleys because of God’s design. By God’s design the same water makes delicious tea, beer, or Coca-Cola (if that’s your poison). And by God’s design that same water turns white and magnificently beautiful when it freezes. Every drop of it that falls from the sky in frozen form is unique. By God’s design it covers the ground and gives a reminder of cleanliness to even the dirtiest places on earth. By God’s design we can make it into snowballs and throw them at each other. By God’s design we can sled or ski down hills covered in it.
I rather like the way Ravi Zacharias talks about the power of God, using Lazarus as an example.
Have you ever wondered what you would do to frighten Lazarus after he’d been raised from the dead? What would you do to threaten him? ‘Lazarus, I’m gonna kill you?’When you tell someone about Jesus you’re telling them about the creator of the mountains. About the creator of snow, of trees, of rivers, and of man. You’re also telling them about the one who can heal disease, give sight to the blind, give freedom to the demon possessed, and even conquer death.
Caligula says, ‘I’m going to kill you.’
He says, ‘Ha, ha, ha.’
He says ‘stop ha, ha, ha-ing. I’m going to kill you as I’m killing all the Christians.’
He doubles over in uncontrollable laughter, comes up for air and says, ‘Caligula haven’t you heard? Death is dead! Death is dead!’
How do you frighten somebody who has already been there and knows the one who’s going to let him out?
An iPad may bring you joy for a time (in fact I think it likely will), or being the most popular kid in school, and worshipping a log of wood carved into the shape of an idol may bring you comfort for a time. But that man-made image, popularity, and fancy toys, cannot create even the smallest grain of sand let alone the mountains. They cannot heal you from a rug burn, let alone save you out of death.
They are impotent, worthless idols that offer nothing of lasting value. Worshipping them in practice or in your heart yields nothing of value, and distracts you from following the one true and powerful God.
When you preach Jesus, when you tell someone about the creator God, you are talking about the most powerful force in heaven and on earth. Something that makes the fastest Ferrari seem painfully underpowered. Something which makes the pyramids of Giza look petty and small. Something which makes overwhelming pain seem trivial. You are offering the greatest gift in heaven and on earth. A personal relationship with the almighty God.
2. That Glory Living in Us
1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” and similarly 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”
When we put our faith in Jesus we become a temple of the living, almighty God. Think about that for a moment.
When Solomon built an enormous temple for the Lord on earth he prayed in dedication to the Lord, and half way through he wonders aloud, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).
Imagine a God so mighty, so powerful, and so big compared to us that even the heavens cannot contain Him, and yet he chooses to dwell within us. Think about the biggest thing you’ve ever seen in the world. A mountain, or an ocean. Then think about how small that thing is when compared with the distance between the earth and the moon. Then think about how small the earth and moon are when compared with our solar system. Then think about how minuscule our solar system is when compared with the known universe. And imagine a God that cannot be contained even within the limits of our knowledge of space, or our conception of heaven. And imagine that God choosing to dwell within puny little you.
Now remember that the next time you tell someone about Jesus. You are offering to them to have the greatest glory in the universe dwell within them. This is no small gift you’re telling them about.
Now when Solomon finished praying and asking God if he would really dwell in the temple he built we’re told the glory of the Lord descended.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.’In fact the glory of the Lord came in such display of majesty all the people of Israel saw the fire come down, and they could not help but bow down.
- 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Our God, the God of infinite glory, majesty, power, wisdom, and might, has chosen to dwell within those who follow after Him. He has offered a hope beyond our wildest imaginations in both this life and the next. He has offered us meaning in life where without Him we have none. When we turn to Jesus and follow after a greater plan than our own, when we seek the glory of His Name rather than the exaltation of our own, when we realize our utter worthlessness apart from Him, He humbles himself to dwell within us. A concept we cannot begin to even fathom.
When you share about Jesus Christ and Him crucified, you're offering a gift so amazing that you're going to want to punch people in the face when they turn it down (I highly advise against this however). You'd have to be a fool to reject Christ if you knew even one fraction of what was offered.
I've shared before about how sharing our faith is like sharing with others about a pair of shoes you like. If you buy a pair of shoes you tell others about them. Here's my story.
I'm from Colorado, and even went to the University of Colorado in Boulder where Crocs are made. I'm nearly certain you've heard of Crocs (if you're an American, and you will soon if you're not), as just about everyone owns a pair. The first time I saw them was at a shoe shop where I asked the salesman what all the hype was about, after all, they're ugly as the day is long. The salesman told me I wouldn't be able to try a pair on without buying them. So I tried a pair on, and didn't buy them. Mostly just to rub it in his face, but also because I didn't see what all the fuss was about.
Several months later I was waiting tables at a cajun seafood restaurant in Texas and after being on my feet all day long I had grown to appreciate comfortable shoes in a new way. One day when business was slow and I was standing around waiting for someone to be seated in my section, an old man of about 80 years or so walked out of the bathroom. He walked slower than molasses and used a cane, and he was wearing Crocs. I couldn't believe this old guy was wearing such ugly shoes. So I asked him about them, and he was thrilled to talk to me. He told me his feet started hurting him when he was much younger and he had to wear expensive orthotics with every shoe he wore or he would be in so much pain he couldn't walk. But these. Well, these were different. Thirty-five dollars and he felt like a million bucks. He told me I had to try them.
So I walked out of the restaurant and bought a pair on my way home. I was converted.
Over the next few years I told everyone about them. Yea, they're ugly, but you can't believe how comfortable they are. I wore them to the zoo one day with five other friends. They all wore their best shoes and all of them were sitting down by the 5th hour in pain from being on their feet. I felt like I had just stood up. It was like walking on air. So I told more and more people about them.
That man shared with me about his shoes because he believed in them. They had changed his life. He wasn't shy about what he was offering me because he knew their intrinsic value. I had to be a fool to ignore his advice. His pitch was so convincing, and his enthusiasm for them so overwhelming I couldn't help myself.
But how often do we share more passionately with our friends about shoes than we do about Jesus? Do we really believe Jesus will change people's lives? If we do, how can we NOT talk about Him?
Once I bought I pair of Crocs I wore them everywhere and I told everyone about them. It was instantly obvious these shoes were something special. And the more I told my story to others the more they wanted a pair.
If you think back about your relationship with the Lord, odds are someone told you about Him. Maybe they didn't do so enthusiastically, but there was some reason or other that eventually convinced you Jesus was good, and you had to try Him. After you have believed do you have a significant testimony? Or did you buy a nice pair of shoes, take them straight home and put them in the closet? Because I can guarantee if you tried on Jesus then you have something to tell others. If you've let Jesus affect your life then your life has been changed in a way worth talking about. And if you have had even just a taste of the joy that comes from knowing Him, you're going to be dying to tell others about Him. And your enthusiasm for Him will be overwhelming.
If you clothe yourself with the whole armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-20, you will find more than a pair of shoes to talk about.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Clothe yourself with the armor of God and you will experience His glory. And His glory will overwhelm you, it will change you, you will recognize your sheer worthlessness apart from Christ, and telling others about Him will not just be easy, it will be fun.
I've been quoting Tom Wells a lot as I'm reading through one of his books. He says,
You need to think, not of an instant programme [sic], but of increasing your own knowledge of God to the point where speaking of His glory becomes a part of you.If you increase your knowledge of God, you will better understand His glory, and His glory will become a part of you. It won't take long and you won't be able to help yourself but to tell others.