All I Know

…All I know is this: I used to be blind, and now I can see. (John 9:25, NTE)

The man who made this statement had been called before the religious leaders to explain who Jesus was and how He had healed him. The leaders’ desire was to uncover sin and have justification to discredit Jesus. But the healed man had no idea who Jesus was; all he knew was what Jesus did for him. As the story continues, the religious leaders ask him to tell what happened…again. I think this confuses the man:

He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” (John 9:27, NIV)

We sometimes find ourselves in confusing spiritual conversations. Is the other person seeking to understand? Are they looking for a safe person to open up to? Do they simply enjoy arguing and debating? Are we pushing our perspective on someone who is not interested? Or are they interested and want us to share more? It is important to remember that our job is not to convince people of God’s truth; that is the job of the Holy Spirit. We do not need to “sell” God. Or defend Him. Or be experts on spiritual matters.

What is our role in introducing others to Christ? As I researched this, I discovered the New Testament gives four similar-yet-distinct instructions: proclaim, share, tell, and witness. The intention is the same: God wants us to communicate who what Christ has done for us and who He is to us. But the method varies based on the situation.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “…proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ (Matthew 10:7, NIV)

This was near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The Greek word used for proclaim is kēryssete, which means “to be a herald, to proclaim”. Jesus wanted to draw attention to His presence and power, much like a town crier drew attention to the king’s actions and decrees. Since He wanted everyone to know about the salvation He offered, Jesus instructed His disciples to proclaim His message boldly. Those who were receptive had the opportunity to experience God’s power at work. At times, far more life is proclaiming, “All I know is the message Jesus gave me.”

…Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (I Thessalonians 2:8 NIV)

The Greek word translated as share is metadounai, which means “to give a share of”. Rather than being isolated or closed off, we are to introduce others to Christ by sharing our lives with them and developing genuine friendships. As we live side-by-side, our words and actions show how our relationship with Christ impacts who we are and what we do. Far more life shares the message of Christ by sharing “All I know…” in words and through actions like forgiveness, generosity, kindness, patience, and more.

Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:38-39, NIV)

This man was set free from demon possession through a personal encounter with Jesus. He then instructed the man to tell his family what happened (diēgou), which means “to relate fully”. I think Jesus wanted the man to tell how his thoughts, feelings, and beliefs were changed by Jesus’ actions. According to the text, the man did not just tell others, he proclaimed (kēryssete) it all over town. I think his response was so big because Jesus radically changed every aspect of his life! Far more life is being ready to fully relate the changes produced by your personal encounter with Christ: “All I know is how Jesus changed me.”

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)

When you think of a witness, what comes to mind? I think of a person telling what they observed or experienced. We most often hear witnesses associated with court cases; their testimony supports the case of the one who called them to the stand. This verse instructs the disciples — and us — to be “martyres”, witnesses, for God everywhere we go, starting in our hometown and extending as far into the world as our influence reaches. Sometimes witnessing means calling out evil. At other times it means doing what is right when others choose sin. Witnessing can mean sharing what God has told us about the future and why we believe Him. Far more life testifies “All I know is I have seen His power at work and I believe what He says.”

Far more life proclaims, shares, tells, and witnesses. Putting Jesus’ instruction into action can open doors to wonderful conversations with those God is drawing and sweet fellowship with those who are already following Him. Far more life rests in our willingness to include Christ in our interactions, not in the other person’s response. A mindset that looks for opportunities to communicate, “All I know…”, enables us to join the Psalmist in declaring:

My mouth is filled with praise for you. All day long I will talk about your glory. (Psalm 71:8, NIRV)

Sisters,
What has God done for you? How has He changed your life?

Do you agree it is your role to communicate about God and God’s role to draw people to Himself? If not, consider John 6:44 and 63-65.
In what situation would you…proclaim? …share? …tell? …witness?
Pray to recognize opportunities to communicate “All I know…” this week so you can experience the blessing of far more life that accompanies obeying your Heavenly Father!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Far More Good News

I have been contemplating the question, “What do our lives look like when we are passionately pursuing Christ?” I’ve been wondering about the commonalities among people living this way. During one of my God Times, this passage caught my attention:

Live as citizens who reflect the Good News about Christ…don’t let your opponents intimidate you in any way…God has given you the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him.  (Philippians 1:27, 28a, 29, GW)

It seems the Philippians were passionately pursuing God. Three things stood out to me about Paul’s instruction: reflect the Good News; don’t let opponents intimidate; and it’s a privilege to suffer. Let’s explore them.

First, like the Christians in Philippi, we are surrounded by bad news. We constantly hear of problems, tragedies, evil, and dissatisfaction. I am tempted to withdraw from media to avoid the negativity it promotes. But the bad news around us creates a perfect backdrop for the good news of Christ! The message of Christ offers the safety people are seeking. Far more life shares the Good News of peace and hope in Christ.

When we experience far more life, we naturally want to tell others about it. We want them to know Christ and discover the richness of a relationship with Him, too. We hear the bad news that burdens them and want to offset it with the Good News that changes everything. Sometimes we have the opportunity to speak, other times we do not. Either way, I appreciate the heart Paul had for the Thessalonians:

Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (I Thessalonians 2:8, NIV)

Far more life is sharing life with others. There is something special about relationships that are centered on following God. There is a depth of connection that forms as we walk through life together. I have belonged to small groups and ministry teams that sacrificially supported each other through hard times, genuinely loved each other through trials and misunderstandings, and joyfully celebrated together when God blessed a member or granted our prayers. Many defining moments of my life have been shared with these dear people! We live far more life together.

Second, we face opponents who want to intimidate us. A Christian worldview is not popular, in fact it is often denounced and ridiculed. We are wise to carefully choose what we say and when we say it. But we don’t have to be intimidated about believing and living out the Good News of Christ. Far more life is boldly accepting and living out God’s love.

When I think of loving boldly in the presence of intimidating opponents, I appreciate the example of Guido in the movie Life is Beautiful. Despite being in a Nazi concentration camp, he goes to great lengths to keep his young son physically and emotionally sheltered from the reality they are facing. He also finds a way to communicate to his beloved wife that he is still alive. Guido successfully lives within the restrictions placed on him by the Nazis but is not intimidated by them. He lives out his love with boldness. No external situation he faces can extinguish it. The same is true of God’s love within His children. Far more life stands strong against opponents.

This leads us to the third statement: God has given us the privilege of suffering for Christ. Privilege of suffering? We think of privilege as an easy life, removed from difficulty. But God has a different perspective:

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God (1 Peter 2:20b, NIV)

Why is suffering for doing good commendable before God?

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.  (I Peter 4:14, 16, NIV)

God’s children are not understood by this world. That leads to insults and suffering. God is proud of His children who endure that suffering graciously because they understand the Good News of Christ and the spiritual dynamics of this world. He is pleased when we keep doing what He says is good despite being misunderstood and oppressed. What was true of the first century Christians and is true of many Christ-followers around the world today:

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:33-34, NIV)

Far more life takes suffering in stride and remains focused on eternal glory. It remembers this world is not our true home and this life is just a moment in eternity. Hebrews 11 is filled with examples of men and women who lived out that reality. After a long list of examples, the writer concludes: “the world was not worthy of them” (verse 38). Those men and women put their faith in God and the Good News of Christ above all else. They lived far more life and they suffered at the hands of those who could not comprehend it. We are not alone. We are not the first. We are probably not suffering the worst. But we can live far more life in our suffering.

So, what do our lives look like when we are passionately pursuing Christ? Far more life!

Sisters,
How do you reflect the Good News of Christ?
How do you share your life with others?
Does opposition intimidate you? Or make you bold?
How have you experienced the privilege of suffering for Christ?
Embrace far more life as you passionately pursue Christ this week!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso