“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.” – Alexandre Dumas
One of the most fundamental aspects of preaching the Word to anyone is the basic fact that you do not convert anyone. Let me repeat that just to make sure it sinks in:
You do not convert anyone, God does.
There is nothing that you, as a flawed human being, can say that will directly convert an individual to Christianity. So often, I have encountered people who ‘sell’ God like He’s some kind of self-help program. If you approach missionary work with “sales pitches” and “catch phrases,” you’re doing it wrong. So, so, very wrong. In fact, you are most likely causing more damage to God’s work than anything!
“But, I’m spreading God’s word, and if they don’t want to accept it then that’s on them.” – guy who doesn’t get it
Yes, we are called to talk about Christ. And, yes, you have all of the good intentions in the world. Aaaaaand, yes, it is ultimately on the receiver of the Word to choose to accept it or not. However (and this is a HUGE ‘however’), I would ask you one simple question:
“Is it for HIS glory, or for yours?” (throwback to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . . . #bestIndianaJonesfilm)
But there is one crucial thing that a Christian should do in order to facilitate a conversion in someone. . .
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught those who followed him that “[they] are the light of the world.” He also instructed them to, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). But what does it mean to “let your light shine?” How do I shine my light towards others?
First and foremost, it is important to define what exactly this ‘light’ is. If we carefully read the passage in Matthew it states, “YOU are the light of the world.” Which means that who you are is the light that is shining. And the caliber of person you are is a direct result of your relationship with God. Jesus also taught that, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV). What you need to understand, before even approaching another human being about the Bible, or Jesus, or anything related to God’s Word, is you have to be in a position, personally, to be able to emit the light of Christ towards others.
Think of it like a light bulb, is the light coming from the bulb or the electricity going in it?
You might ask, “But, aren’t we all sinners? Don’t we all fall short of the glory of God?”
Absolutely! Which is why we are not showing our own personal light (if we even have one). What we are doing is allowing those around us to see how God is working in us. How He gives us joy, and peace, and hope. If these things are not present in your life, then your light is being hidden, instead of being set upon a hilltop.
When others see God in you, they will be inspired to want to know why.
True Christians have a tendency to be some of the most overall happy people on the planet. They light up a room (pun intended) when they are in group gatherings. They are usually smiling, and they have such a positive demeanor that it is truly infectious. You can’t help but feel it. And that is God’s love, His light, shining through those who invite and maintain Him in their hearts, in their minds, and in their lives.
Have you ever met someone like this? Maybe at work, or at school, or maybe even at church? I have. Sadly, not as often as I would have liked, but they do exist out there. . .
Back when I was still searching for answers about life, I worked with a young woman who just radiated such a cheerful and upbeat energy that I couldn’t help but be inspired by it. At the time, I was for the most part, depressed. I was going through some tough times in my life and I found little relief from the typical, worldly pleasures (i.e. distractions that take our mind off of the mundane, everyday tasks of life) But, she was always so happy – it was almost sickening!
Why was she so happy? Better yet, what was it about her life that was so great? We had the same dead-end job, we lived in the same small town, what gives?
I soon came to find out that she was Christian, which given my background as a former Christian, I was inspired to talk about it with her. One evening, when the store was dead, and it was just the two of us until closing, I decided to strike-up a conversation about God.
Now, I’ve had many conversations with self-professed Christians over the years, and the vast majority have pretty much defined the stereotype of the pushy, in-your-face, judgmental ‘Bible-thumper.’ They love to just randomly quote scriptures, and they LOVE to tell you what you need to do. But this conversation was different; this time, I felt really engaged.
The first thing that struck me about our conversation is she listened to me, and I don’t mean just listened to what I had to say and then talked about what she wanted to say. I mean, she really listened to my story and asked thoughtful questions. I really felt that she cared about me, my story, and most of all what I was going through at the time. Did I let her know that at the time? Of course not. But, what it did was plant a small seed inside of me, that eventually inspired me to want to learn more.
God doesn’t expect for everyone we encounter to be converted. What He does expect us to do is to be an example of His power and grace in our lives.
By doing this, we show those around us the benefits of Christian living. We give those who are alone, who are lost, or maybe who just need a little comfort (and who doesn’t need that?) an incentive to want to know why we are so content.
And that is the absolute, first step in aiding the Holy Spirit in the conversion of another human being.