Know, Share, Retire - Part 4
Peter, in his epistle, gives us some guidance (1 Peter 3:15b-16a):
Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.What does Paul do first? He walks around Athens. He learns about the people who live there. I imagine he talks to people. He not only sees all of the idols to other Gods, but he reads what is inscribed on at least one of them. "To the unknown God." He must have seen that as a marvelous opening into the spiritual thirst of the city that was around him, and that opportunity was open to him because he opened himself up to know the people in Athens.
Think back to the story of Job. Job has had this horrible experience, losing almost everything that was important to him, and he is sitting in an ash heap, covered with sores. His friends come to him and they sit with him. For seven days, they said nothing. It was a wonderful, grace-filled act of love. It wasn't until they started talking that everything turned south. Listening to people is a demonstration of the love we have for our neighbors and of God's love for them, as well.
Steve and I were invited to lunch once by a gentleman and his wife. It was a nice lunch and there was a lot of conversation, but as Steve and I were driving away, I said, "I know a whole lot about that man and his life, but I bet he doesn't know a thing about me at all, even after spending an hour and half together." Don't let those words be spoken by people you are trying to reach with the light of Christ. Love them enough to listen to them; to understand their life stories.
Then, share the Good News of Christ as Peter instructs - with gentleness and reverence. Fit the story to their circumstances. Maybe that will mean telling your Dr. Bob story - how Christ has made a difference in your life. Maybe that means not saying anything at all, but instead telling the story with your actions. Feed people. Give them clothes or shelter or care. Transport someone to a doctor's appointment or sit by their bedside as they are dying. Be Christ for someone else, and do it all in the name of God.