Our culture is said to be post-Christian—not merely not Christian, but increasingly set against Christianity. More and more, we’re in danger of losing confidence that talking about Jesus will have any impact. Yet our secular society leaves people searching for something that gives meaning and purpose to their lives.
Yes, these can be difficult times to “stay salt” and to keep sharing the reason for our hope—but these are also the best times to be a witness, because the need is so great.
Will we, in our post-Christian culture, reclaim our confidence and conviction in the God who speaks and acts and who is, as C. S. Lewis said, “the transcendental Interferer”? Will we show the world, not in a triumphalist or pushy manner but by word and deed, that receiving Christ as Lord makes all the difference—the only truly lasting difference—in our individual lives, our cities, and our world?
Witness Isn’t an Optional Extra
I was the first in my family to become a Christian. Though it took time, eventually all of my family came to Christ—except my brother. Bobby and I are—were—“Irish twins”: he was born 12 months and 2 weeks after me. Everyone loved my brother. He had a huge heart. But he also made some significant mistakes in his adult life and consequently experienced some hard years.
These can be difficult times to ‘stay salt’ and to keep sharing the reason for our hope—and these are also the best times to be a witness because the need is so great.
One day, out of the blue, Bobby called me. I could tell something was wrong. Eventually he said, “Becky, I have so many regrets about my life.”
“Bobby, that’s wonderful!” I said. “Because the gospel makes the most sense to people with regrets.”
He responded, “But when I look at how I have lived my life—and then I look at your life—I feel so ashamed.”
“But do you know what we have in common?” I replied. “We are both sinners who desperately need God’s forgiveness. That is why Jesus went to the cross. He died for sinners like us. No one deserves God’s grace. But it’s there, waiting for you.”
I had shared my faith with Bobby many times over the years. I was afraid to get my hopes up—yet I sensed this time was different. As we were about to hang up, his voice broke: “Becky, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
A few weeks later, I felt the Lord nudging me to gather my entire family to celebrate Thanksgiving together. When our family arrived, I saw Bobby. I was struck by how different he seemed. I wondered, What’s happened to Bob? He looks so peaceful and joyful.
After dinner, we had a chance to catch up. After our phone call he’d faced the fact that he’d been running from God his whole life. He said, “I finally did it. I told Jesus, ‘Yes,’ and I surrendered my life to him completely. Since that moment, you can’t imagine all the prayers he’s answered!”
When Bobby left, I turned to my husband, Dick, with uncontainable joy: “For the first time in my life, I know my brother belongs to Jesus!”
Five days later, Bobby was killed in a car crash.
Grace at a Funeral
As I processed my shock and grief, I came to see that God—in his love and mercy, knowing what was going to happen—had nudged me to gather my whole family for Thanksgiving. God alone knew this would be the last time my family would ever see Bobby alive on earth; and so, in his infinite mercy, he allowed us to know that Bobby had given his life to him.
One week later Dick and I spoke at his funeral. A friend of Bobby’s held a party afterward at her restaurant to honor his memory. I felt drained. I was hoping the party wouldn’t last too long. That wasn’t what God intended! Bobby’s friends approached us from every direction for just one reason: they wanted to talk about God.
God alone knew this would be the last time my family would ever see Bobby alive on earth; and so, in his infinite mercy, he allowed us to know that Bobby had given his life to him.
A group of Bobby’s male friends came up to Dick and asked question after question about faith. Then one man, who had been quiet the whole time, said, “If Jesus truly was God’s Son and rose from the dead and is now in heaven, then there’s only one question that matters: ‘What does Jesus think about us?’”
We didn’t sit down for almost two hours. Right before we left, I saw a guy I knew from high school sitting at the bar, accompanied by 10 empty beer bottles. He said:
We all saw the difference in Bobby. I’m not a religious man, but what you and Dick said in your eulogies made sense. I was especially struck by your comment, “How can we reject something and consider ourselves intelligent people if we’ve never even read the accounts of Jesus?” So I’ve decided to take your challenge. Do you have any suggestions for what I should start reading?
I wrote down a few Christian books on a napkin and then said, “Actually, why don’t you start by reading the Gospels?”
“Ok!” he said. “That’s exactly what I’ll do!”
As Dick and I were walking out the door, he suddenly yelled across the crowded room, “Hey, Becky . . . what’s a Gospel?”
God Never Stops Pursuing
I had dreaded going to the restaurant. But I left feeling joy and gratitude to God. We’d been able to deliver the good news to people who knew something in their lives was missing. Not only that, those people had seen a change in Bobby’s life—and they wanted to know why. I kept thinking how thrilled Bobby would be to know he’d been a witness to his friends in his two short months of walking with Jesus. Bobby died, yet grace won!
There’s no question that evangelism is a challenge in today’s climate. But people are looking for a solid reason for hope as never before. My brother’s story reveals that God never gives up pursuing and loving us—and we must not give up either, not ever!
My brother’s story reveals that God never gives up pursuing and loving us—and we must not give up either, not ever!
No matter how inadequate or hesitant we feel, Jesus calls every Christian to be his mouthpiece, hands, and feet in the spreading of the gospel. God gives us his power through the Spirit, his truth through the gospel, and his love through Jesus—everything we need to be effective witnesses.
With whatever time God has allotted each of us, let us strive to be witnesses worthy of the One who sacrificed everything for us and for our salvation.
Can there be a greater privilege?