[musings from the manse – 25th April 2020]
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a)
How do you go and share Jesus when your opportunities to go have been curtailed by lockdown?
Well, I don’t think the great commission has been suspended, not even the government has the power to do that. But I also don’t think it means that we need to go and flout lockdown restrictions in order to fulfil it, just that we need new ways to engage in evangelism.
In our church vision, that we agreed last year, we had this as one of the aspirations: recognising that as our culture is ever changing, so our ways of sharing the gospel need to be ever adapting to reflect this change. And that is never more relevant that it is today, in the situation we find ourselves in.
One of the key areas we need to think about is what areas of people lives can we try and connect with, so that we can try and relate God and his kingdom to them.
Loneliness, stress, death, family, jobs, relationships, nature, sacrifice, life … and the list goes on. You can relate God to most things really.
People will want to talk. Real meaningful connections can be limited at this time; people may need a release and you may find people want to share.
When people do share, offer to pray for things they have told you, often a good way of planting the initial seeds of faith in a conversation, and very rarely will someone refuse prayer.
And if you make a connection, say that people can get back in touch with you.
If you see a person again, try and remember what you said and ask how things are going.
But where might you meet these people?
So here are a few locations where we can still share Jesus in a time of isolation.
Most of us will still have some interactions with our neighbours: a conversation across a fence, across the road, when gardening, when washing the car.
when getting exercise
Pause, at a suitable distance, when out for walk and talk to friend or stranger, if it is safe to do so; people seem very happy to chat at the moment.
Chat in the queue, chat when you awkwardly pass by, chat to the person at the checkout, ask the people working in the shops how they are coping.
Ring up those people you usually meet with week by week, share a cuppa when you are doing so, share as deeply as you would if you were face to face, build on that relationship you already have; also reach out to those casual acquaintances that you feel maybe self-isolating or struggling, and connect with them, give them someone to talk to.
For some of us, connecting online may seem unreal, but for many today it is just as real as a face-to-face connection and there are many ways we can connect, build relationships and share with one another through social media and other online platforms.
We need to use whatever ways we can to share Jesus.
As we seek to connect with people, as conversations develop, hopefully the point will come where people will ask you how you are feeling and as Peter in his first letter says “… if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15) Take the opportunity when it is presented to you, but make as Peter also says, you “… do this in a gentle and respectful way,” because you want the conversation to continue and develop, so that people come to know the hope that has transformed your life for themselves.
There are always opportunities for us to share Jesus, even in a time of isolation, we just need to be brave enough to take them.
Yours in Christ
All bible readings from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation