We Have Hope Within Us — Should We Force It On Others?
by Jim Gordon
As followers of Christ, we have a hope within us that can be an encouragement to us, and that can uplift us during the events of our daily life. Because of this, we want others to know and share in having that hope for themselves.
Yet, we often go a little overboard on when and how to let others know about that hope. Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation?
Quite frankly, I disagree with all of those thoughts. I agree that some people have the gift of evangelism and should be using that gift to the fullest. I also feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact each day.
We all have probably at one time or another taken (or forced) an opportunity to tell someone about the love of God. It seems even to the point of wanting to make converts more than wanting to make friends. I have experienced a few times when people I just met in a store or restaurant were extra nice and doing their best to talk with me. I thought they were just being nice, or maybe this will be a new friend only to find out they were just trying to make a new convert to their church.
As Christians, we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love, and usually no words are necessary.
Anyone can speak words…words of needing salvation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, but words themselves have no strength. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. When we consistently live what we believe, it has more impact than thousands of words.
We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to God. It is not our job to try to convert people. It is not our job to condemn or judge anyone. We are only to love God and love the people that we meet each day.
1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12 tells us that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.
Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine minding your business and living a peaceful life, but be ready to give an answer about God’s love when someone asks. Of course, this should be done in love and with no ulterior motive attached. Always follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that our words on their own will not make an impact on anyone.
By living this way and not forcing our views on others, the words we do say will have more meaning to those who are wondering what the hope is that we have within us.
Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org