It's a new year and the events of the past year demonstrate how desperately people need the peace of mind and heart that come from the God Who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.
That means that the Church, the people who daily engage in battle against their own sin and entrust their lives to Jesus Christ, their God, need to get busy sharing their faith in Christ.
Not convinced? Here are five reasons you should share your faith in Christ in 2013.
1. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors. Jesus once summarized God's moral law, as revealed in the Old Testament's Ten Commandments, in what has come to be called the great commandment. It's made up of two parts, each of which cite passages from the Old Testament. Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second commandment is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).
A relationship with Jesus Christ is the best thing that can come to a person. So, if we love our neighbors, we must share Christ.
We should take the first believers in Christ as our models. They simply told their skeptical friends, "Come and see." If we love our friends, neighbors, and family members, we must share Christ with them!
2. Jesus commissions Christians to make disciples, that is, followers of Christ. Faith is not reproduced genetically. Just because your parents were committed Christians who took you to church as a kid doesn't mean that you're a disciple. Faith is passed on from person to person.
That's why Jesus tells Christians, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned" (Matthew 16:15-16).
3. Your neighbor needs Christ. There's an inborn hole in every soul that can only be filled by Jesus Christ. That hole is the vacuum where a right and loving relationship with God and neighbor is meant to be. Jesus is the only way that hole can be filled!
Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
At risk to their lives, early followers of the crucified and risen Jesus told people, "There is salvation in no one else, for their is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
4. Without a saving faith in Jesus Christ, your neighbor will be separated from God today and for eternity. Jesus says: "For God so loved the world [everybody] that He gave His only Son [Jesus], so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the Name of the only Son of God" (John 3:16-18).
5. Our own faith grows as we share Christ with others and our own faith ebbs as we fail to share Christ with others. We have a need to share our faith.
Jesus tells believers in Him, "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
Jesus, the light of the world, ignites the flame of faith in all who are baptized and believe in Him. When we let others see our faith, it lights their way to peace with God, others, and themselves. When we tamp down the flame of faith, we harm others and threaten the very existence of faith within us.
That's why, after being beaten and threatened with grave consequences if they shared their faith in Christ with others, Peter and John, two early followers of Jesus told the authorities, "Whether it is right in God's sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20).
Peter and John, of course, were witnesses of both Jesus' death and His resurrection. We have the witness of hundreds of such eyewitnesses like them who risked their lives to share the fantastic story of the God of all creation taking on human flesh in the person of Jesus, then dying and rising, to give new lives to all who repent and believe in Christ.
We also have the witness of millions of people in the centuries since Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection that their lives were transformed by faith in Christ. Believers in Christ today have similar stories.
How can we possibly keep from speaking about Jesus? News this good has to be shared.
Happy new year!