“Oh, there will always be another time.”
“Someone who is better able to answer their questions can talk to them.”
These were my two thoughts for the longest time, and two thoughts I still struggle with. Not only do I feel woefully inadequate when I have gospel conversations with people who don’t yet know Jesus as Savior, but I often look at my ordinary days as being the same for a long time to come—that there are plenty of future days to have that conversation. It is easy to take for granted the people who are in your own world until it’s too late.
Several years ago I took a class and got to know a woman in it, but in all of our weeks together, I never shared the gospel with her. The class ended and I thought I’d surely see her around town. But I didn’t. A couple of winters later she died in an accident. Only God knows if she had saving faith in Jesus before her sudden death.
And when I look at my apartment “neighbors,” it is the same. Sadly, the turnover rate in my building is pretty high, with only two of my current neighbors having been here over a year. Everyone else is new since the end of summer. I no longer take it for granted that these people are going to be here day in and day out. Often while I am at work, someone loads up their stuff and is gone for days before I realize they are no longer in the building.
At Christmas, I had decided that I was going to give each of them some candy and a note, inviting them to church for Christmas Day. But by the Wednesday afternoon before Christmas, many of them had already left for the week. It seemed a little ridiculous to leave a gift and an outdated card at their door for them to find when they returned home.
Maybe it would have been silly. But what was even sillier was doing nothing.
Friends, perhaps the words of Mordecai to his niece, Esther, are just as true for us today, “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
We do not know the means God will use to draw people to saving faith in his Son, but what if part of this person’s salvation story included the gospel coming from us? If God has perfectly ordained for each person to live in a certain area, in a certain time period, and to have certain people in his or her life, then couldn’t it be possible that he also means for that same person to also share Christ with them?
So, this Easter, I did something different for my neighbors. I left them a little bag of chocolate on their doorknobs, with a church invite card tied to the bag. Perhaps, many of them will be gone this weekend, but the invite card will keep for next week and the week after that and the week after that. And the gospel will be faithfully preached Easter Sunday or the Sunday after that or in two months from now.
And it really wasn’t all that hard. But it was a good way to start with neighbors who I have next to no relationship with, but I would not recommend it, if you actually know your neighbors. If you know people, then an actual face to face invite is likely better. And, for myself, I hope that when the long nights of summer come, God would be pleased to give me many evenings on the front step with these neighbors.
Although Gandalf’s words to Frodo were not about the gospel, they are fitting for our own lives: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” If Jesus is our greatest treasure, than we already know what we need to be doing with the time that has been given to us—loving him and telling others about him.
We may feel that we stink at sharing the gospel with people, but it is not on us to get them to trust in Jesus as Savior. That is the work of the Spirit. Though our words are halting and disconnected at times, or we may not have the answer to a whopper of a question, we can rest in the fact that the Spirit does not get tied up in our tangled words.
All we are called to do is love people like Jesus and in our love for them, tell them about our Savior.