Telling people about Jesus is super important to me. It’s important because Jesus has drastically changed my life and I long for people to have him change theirs as well. God is developing in me a love for people and that love is the motivator for me to tell them the story of Jesus. But in this burning desire to have them encounter the saving grace of God I sometimes miss communicate my love for them. I fail to listen. They have a story that Jesus can speak truth into but I need to listen to them. It is a huge slap in the face when I force a solution to a problem that I never took the time to listen to. I am trying to communicate “I love you” with “oh, I wasn’t listening.”
We all have a story that forms us and how we relate to the world around us. It determines how we make decisions and who we allow in. It shapes how we look at the world around us and the people we come in contact with. I believe the Gospel of Jesus can and will speak into anyone’s story but we need to take the time to figure out what that is. What if someone has had a terrible father who left them and they can’t see God without seeing their own earthly father? What if someone was raped as a child and they believe themselves to be worthless? How does the Gospel speak to these issues?
We need to learn how to speak the Gospel into every situation in life. This is truly what I think Paul is trying to get at in Ephesians 4:14-16, when he says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
So, listen to people before speaking. Think of others more highly than yourselves. Communicate the love of Jesus by entering into their story and speaking God’s redemptive story into it. It’s not about dumping the Gospel on people. It’s about speaking the truth in love.