“Living Water Fertilizer will make your grass live forever,” says the salesman. While he gives his pitch, you notice that his own yard contains crabgrass, dandelions, and numerous brown patches. Hmm. He claims that your grass will live forever, but you’re skeptical because his yard appears no different from your own. No thanks; I’ll stick to what I’ve been using.
Now imagine the same scenario, but the salesperson approaches you by asking, “If you never watered your lawn again, would it die?” Probably. He proceeds to tell you about his product, then attempts to close the sale by saying, “If you apply Living Water Fertilizer, your grass will live forever, and you’ll never need to water it, even in times of drought.” You’re not really convinced, but it’s worth a try because you have little to lose. Okay. You make the purchase.
Now suppose that you’re in the habit of walking around the neighborhood every day. One yard always draws your attention. You used to walk on the opposite side of the street, but now you walk on this side so you can admire the yard. It’s well groomed, beautifully landscaped, and . . . well, peaceful looking. Now it’s more than admiration; it’s curiosity. Of all the times you’ve been by, you’ve never seen anyone breaking his or her back to maintain the yard.
Then there are the parties. The owner seems to always be having a backyard barbecue with friends. Today as you approach the yard, you get a whiff of steak on the grill. You slow your pace so you can look longer without being obvious. This time, the neighbor waves to you and invites you to join the party because he has an overabundance of food. Cautiously, you approach the fellow. He hands you a plate and chats comfortably. In the course of the conversation, you mention how much you admire his yard.
He smiles warmly and says, “I can’t take credit for that. My gardener has absolutely transformed the place. I used to have crabgrass and weeds, barren places where nothing grew, and hard, rocky soil—not to mention the back problems I developed trying to cope with it on my own. The gardener applies Living Water Fertilizer, which supplies the lawn with everything it needs for healthy life. I’ll never have to water my lawn again, even in seasons of drought. The gardener maintains the yard impeccably with no real effort on his part. It’s amazing. Hey, would you like him to be your gardener, too? He’ll do the same thing in our yard, absolutely free.”
Which of those three scenarios do you find most compelling? In the first scenario, the salesperson is not personally living up to his claims. This huckster has nothing you want. In the second scenario, you’re not convinced that you want the product, but you have nothing to lose, so you give it a try. In the third scenario, you are so impressed by the difference that you already know you want what this man has to offer. All he has to do is casually tell you how to get it. There is no selling required.
Evangelism, whether from the pulpit or the layperson, too often involves a sales pitch for God, followed by an appeal to the listener’s fear of death. Common tactics include questions such as, “If you were to die today, do you know where you would spend eternity?” Such questions place the entire emphasis on death and eternity as if that were the major selling point or clincher of the gospel.
For this reason, many (if not most) people “buy into” salvation like a life insurance policy. If it’s true, they’re covered, and if not, they haven’t lost anything. A sales pitch was made, and they bought into it, but their lives did not change. Worse yet, the evangelist never mentions that they should experience changed lives. One has to wonder whether an evangelist who practices such gross negligence in his sales techniques has personally experienced God’s abundant life.
According to Acts 1:8, Christ’s final words to the disciples were “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Jesus commissioned them to be His witnesses. As we know, a witness in today’s courtroom is called upon to give testimony in relation to what he or she has seen, heard, and experienced in relation to the case at hand. The witness does not bear the burden of proof; the witness simply states the facts.
Witnessing, then, does not involve a burden to convince. We can simply state the facts as they relate to our experiences with Christ. Jesus calls on us to give testimony to what we have seen and heard and experienced in relation to Him.
When the power of God is at work in our lives, we cannot help but talk about it. After Peter and John were arrested, they were commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, but they replied, “We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Perhaps those who are reluctant to witness have experienced little in their lives with God worth talking about. What a pity to have experienced so little of the power of God that is readily available!
The gift of God’s grace results in a special quality in us that others find attractive. When people see that our lives are different, that we have life with a capital L, they will be drawn to us. Then we can give testimony about what we have experienced in Christ that has changed our lives in the present and given us hope for the future in eternal life, as well. There is no sales pitch involved nor persuasion based on fear.
Anyone paralyzed by the fear of sharing his or her faith should find this extremely liberating. We don’t have to intimidate or be intimidated because we don’t need to engage in theological debate or “close the sale.” All we need to do is live life abundantly, and the overflow will spill on others, causing them to want what we have. Then all we have to do is tell them.
How does this presentation change your perception of what it might look like to share your faith? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.
If you read this far, you might be interested in reading the entire book. You just read “Chapter 23: Life Overflowing” from my book:
Escape Spiritual Stagnation, Experience Abundant Life