But sometimes, as a deputy, you feel a lot like Barney Fife. So, what can you do? How can you get on with the job Christ has given to you?
Here five pointers, taken from my sermon of yesterday, for Lutherans and other Christians who want to be faithful witnesses for Christ. Maybe they'll help.
- Maintain intimacy with Christ. Use what we Lutherans call "the means of grace," the routes God takes to fill us with faith, to give you a closer walk with Jesus Christ. These include God's Word, which we need to study, and Holy Communion. They also include prayer, conversation with the Lord. Through each, Christ draws us closer to Himself and fills us with assurance that "nothing in all creation"--not even our halting, imperfect attempts to give witness for the eternity of hope we have as believers in Jesus--can separate us from the love of God, given through Christ.
- Live in daily repentance and renewal. Repentance is changing our minds about our sins and turning to God for the forgiveness He offers through Christ. When we do this, God will renew us, helping us to live more faithfully. Two major things will happen when we live in daily repentance and renewal. First, God helps us to avoid sins that might harm us, harm others, or harm our relationship with God. Second, God helps others see the authenticity of our faith. As the bumper stickers put it, "Christians aren't perfect; just forgiven." When others see that we are admittedly imperfect people who seek each day to orient our lives to the will of God, it will enhance the credibility of our witness for Christ.
- Be intentional about forming friendships with spiritually-disconnected people. Jesus was always reaching out to unbelieving people. Many came to follow Him. God's Holy Spirit can empower us to reach out to the same kinds of people and, as we share our witness for Jesus with them, some of them too, will come to follow Jesus.
- Remember your own story. Real witnessing for Christ doesn't usually come when we share Bible tracts with people, but at the intersection of God's story, our story, and the story of our unbelieving friend. Remember how God has given you the undeserved gift of life with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Remember the sins for which Christ daily gives you forgiveness. Be ready to share the story of your relationship with Christ with others at the opportune moments.
- Be kind. Romans 2:4 says that the kindness of God is given in order to lead us to repentance. God has been kind to us. Although we deserve death and condemnation, He has patiently given us time to become acquainted with His Son, repent for our sins, and believe in Jesus. Be kind, patient, and forbearing toward your disbelieving friends. Give them the time and space to experience God's love so that they too, can come to believe in Christ.