A Public Faith

jwoodallBy Justin Woodall. A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit one of our members in the hospital recuperating from a surgery. While I was there, he shared the story of what had happened to him the day before, during a prep procedure. As he was wheeled down to the section of the hospital where he would get ready for the next day’s surgery, he found out that the man performing the procedure was also a member of the church. As he came into the room, his friend was in the process of telling one of the nurses about our church. They were discussing the differences between the church she was raised in and our church. The man performing the procedure began to include the patient into the conversation. As they continued to talk, he was able to share the gospel with this young nurse.

As he relayed this story to me the next day, he said, “I’d gladly give up a toe to have a conversation like that!”

This story is an incredible example of two men, both in very different places, sharing their faith and seeing Christ show up in an unexpected way. The hospital worker had no idea that his next patient was a church member. The patient had no idea what he was walking (or rolling!) into. But both of these men were faithful to the opportunities God was giving them. They were living their faith out in public. Tim Keller recently tweeted about this, saying,

Public faith means going public with what’s in your heart, with humility and respect for others, as we speak of the truth of the gospel.

If you are at all like me, you often think that evangelism is something done by missionaries and people who are really good at it. People who are trained. This is a lie of our flesh. Each one of us is called by Christ to share our faith. Peter puts it like this in 1 Peter 3:15

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

If you look at the way Peter lays out this verse, you can see a progression. If we are going to go public with our faith, it must begin in our hearts. It doesn’t grow out of us trying harder or learning 5 clever tricks. It starts with us honoring, or worshiping Christ. If our hearts are set on the worship of Christ, it will naturally flow into giving account of the hope that is within us. The key to sharing our faith is not in methods or in programs. It is not about a night of the week or a special place. It is about seeing Christ as so worthy, so beautiful that you can’t help but to tell others about him. That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago at Grand Strand Hospital.

Surfside church, as we begin the last part of the year, where we will celebrate Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas; it is a part of the year where it is very easy to share our faith. It is my prayer that I will set Christ apart in my heart as worthy, and that this will lead me to share him with others more. Will you join me in that prayer?

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