Kickoff question: What makes you different from the people around you, the people the Bible classifies as The World?
The biggest step you can make towards outreach is realizing how important it is. I boldly say this at the risk of sounding ignorant.
You see, the more important something is to you, the more energy, time, and resources you invest in it. This principle really applies to everything – your faith, your job, your family, your dream, or a person you like. Your efforts towards something will never take you beyond your estimation of its value. (See if you can grasp that without thinking too hard!)
Question: So, how important is positively affecting the people around you, really?
Well, first of all, it’s a commandment. Here’s that verse we’re so familiar with: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16, KJV) This verse is floating in the context of being the salt of the earth, persecution, and the famous “Blesseds” of the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus is the one commanding, and we’re the ones He’s talking to. To put this point at its pointiest, our orders from the highest Authority in the universe are to let our light shine, and anything less than absolute obedience is called insubordination.
Yeah, but none of us can take an eraser and blot out Matthew 5:16 from all the Bibles in the world, nor would it do any good if we could, so, what do we do about it?
You can realize right now it’s not going to be easy. It takes determination, or ‘psyching up’. Until your flesh is entirely submitted to the will of God, something that takes a long time to acheive, you will not “let your light shine” on your own. It has to be a conscious decision followed by intentional action. Decide to do it, whether you feel like it or not. (I’m not a prophet just yet, but let me tell you, your feelings aren’t gonna be there. You gotta tie up your feelings, gag them, and drag them along behind you.) Decide to obey. Take some time.
Made that decision yet?
Good! Let’s move on.
Start by spending time with God. Something you might have noticed throughout your walk with God is that you can “run out” of God – not to say in any way that He is finite or anything less than eternal – but to the contrary, we are so fickle and subject to the world’s influences that we cannot keep motivation for long. A friend of mine said, “Consecration has a shelf-life. You can’t run long on yesterday’s.” You mine gold and you spend it. Moses’ face shone because of the time he spent with God, not because of the time he spent talking to people about Him.
Next, be straightforward about what you believe.
“But I can’t speak well!” you might say. “God made me that way!”
Take cheer. Moses seems to have been a stutterer.
“But that’s just not my calling!” you might say.
I’m pretty sure it is. Jesus didn’t say “Let your light shine, if you feel led!”
“My relationship is between me and God,” you might say.
No, it’s between you and God… and every single other person you come into contact with. Loving your neighbor, remember?
“But I’m shy by nature!” you might say. “God made me that way!”
No, shyness is part of the sin nature you were born with. Flesh. It’s the dark side of us that comes with being human. Here’s a couple of questions you need to ask yourself:
Do you believe what the Bible says about you?
It says that, despite your past and your weaknesses, you are loved. You are important to the Creator. Admittedly, if you shunt Him off, you are everything that Satan tells you that you are, but while you are under the covenant God made with us through Jesus, your identity is a child of the Most High God. Chew on that for a bit.
Do you believe what the Bible says about them?
You’ve heard about the amazing, depthless, boundless love, forgiveness, hope, and grace of God through Jesus. Hopefully, you’ve experienced it. But what about everybody else? Hebrews 9:27 says we all die once and then we have to face God for judgement. Get that? We’re all going to be judged by a God that loathes evil.
What? God is love, how can He hate? Easily. The same way that, if you love children and life, you will hate abortion. As Paul Washer states, because God is love, He has to hate. The Bible calls it wrath. And this wrath will be directed at all those who are not under the covenant with Jesus.
So if you truly know who you are in Jesus, what is there to be ashmed of? Do you believe what you say you believe or not? If you know what the people around you are headed for, what’s holding you back? Shyness is not a personality trait. It’s selfishness. (And this is coming from someone who has been severely introverted all his life, so take heart! It’s possible.) You just need to know who you are, and who He is.
Let’s finish with some more Matthew 5: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Yeah, it’s not fun. Yeah, it’s work. Yeah, it forces you to step on your flesh and do what’s right. But it’s a command, it’s what’s right, it’s compassionate, and it’s worth it.
So shine on.