When We Are Too Scared to Open Our Mouths

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Every Christian wants to be on mission. It’s part of the way God recreates us when he saves us. Our new heart wants other people to know and love Jesus and to serve others out of love for him. But not every Christian is comfortable sharing the gospel with lots of people in bold ways or serving in hard places in hard ways. I wonder if our fear of those things prevents us from doing the simple thing God asks us to do.

Being missional is nothing more than opening your mouth when God says to. If you want evangelism to take root in your life, be open to the opportunities God places in your life. There are people that you know who don’t know Christ, and you may be praying for them – that they would come to the knowledge of the Lord. It may be that you are in their life because you are the person God is going to use to share the good news. How do you do it?

The book of Acts gives us a manual for many things: biblical community, church planting, preaching gospel-centered sermons, evangelism, enduring persecution, and so forth. But if you notice how the early church spread the good news of the gospel around the world, you can’t help but see that they simply opened their mouths to proclaim the good news when the opportunities arose. God is the creator of gospel proclamation. We are just the vessels he uses to bring the news.

We can use Acts 5 as proof. The apostles are arrested and an angel of the Lord breaks them out of jail and tells them to “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” (Acts 5:20). They didn’t go searching for an opportunity to preach in the temple. They were in prison! But God set them free to go and preach. And so they go.

They waste no time going, “they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach” (Acts 5:21). Then they are arrested again and brought before the council. And what do they do? They preach to the very people who crucified Jesus! They open their mouths. Their mission was to open their mouths when God told them to.

Even with this wonderful model before us, we may still be thinking something like, “Well, ok, that’s fine. They were the apostles! That’s just what they did. But it’s not easy for me. I’m not bold like they are. I don’t think I could talk to people in the same way.” To which Peter would answer, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

For some of us our problem is fear of man – the person on the other side of the table, or in the cube next to us at work, or in the house across the street. But I wonder if this fear is not just a justification of our greater desire to obey ourselves rather than to obey God. We want to make our lives easy, and saying hard things (even if they are the best things in the world) is not easy. We want to obey the voice crying out inside of us, rather than to join the voice crying out in the wilderness preparing the way for the Lord. We have a fear problem, and an obedience problem, before we have a missional problem.

But there is grace for our fear. Jesus gives us the faith we need and as we slowly step out to trust him we will find that he is with us every step of the way. In fact, what we will see is that this is his mission anyway, he's just using us because he loves us and wants us to have the joy of sharing the good news.