The mandate to spread the gospel is one of the most intimidating aspects of the Christian life for many believers. Just mention The Great Commission and more than a few people in the pews break out in hives as visions of tent meetings, Billy Graham crusades and those college roommates who were really "on fire for Christ" fill up their heads. While certainly important, the work of leading people to Jesus seems so big and impossible that we often assume it's best left to those uber-Christians among us who are less likely to mess it up.
In her latest book, Elisa Morgan, president of MOPS International, acknowledges the fears that many people harbor about sharing their faith. She calls them the "I can'ts" of sharing one's faith, and they include: I don't know all the answers; I don't have a dramatic story to tell; I don't know how to relate to people who aren't like me; I might fail. But Morgan counters with the idea that "God wouldn't invite us to be a part of something impossible" and encourages readers to reimagine what it might mean for each of them to fulfill the Great Commission through their own lives.
"In my soul, I have a feeling that we make the whole share-your-faith thing much more difficult than God makes it," she writes. "I have this suspicion that our I can'ts won't hold up in real life when we meet a person stuck in a dark and hopeless situation. We can hide behind them, but God's light will poke out of our very beings --- if only from our very real human cracks."
In her comfortable and conversational tone, Morgan goes on to assert that even a speck of light can change the very nature of the darkness (divorce, alcoholism, unemployment, etc.) many people face. She writes: "Light changes our world. And it changes us. God has brought physical light into our world, and through his Son he brings spiritual light into our lives. And now, we who have this light in us are called to shine his light in such a way that those around us see the light and are drawn to its source. In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul writes to this group of first-century believers, 'Do everything without complaining or surging, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life."' In other words, it's our job to, as the book title suggests, twinkle. Now that doesn't seem nearly as intimidating.
And that's Morgan's hope. She wants people to move away from the "I can'ts" of sharing one's faith to the "I cans" of relationship evangelism: I can... accept people the way they are; be a friend; be real; serve; accept the doubts of others; leave room for wonder; trust God with the results of my efforts. As Morgan points out, evangelism is about shining in the everyday in such a way that we help others move one step closer to Christ.
To this end, TWINKLE offers stories about everyday people who are making a difference by shining their lights in the hustle and bustle of life. Morgan even opens up about her own joys and disappointments regarding people she's known and the way she has and hasn't shared her faith with them. Her stories provide practical encouragement (and tips) that significantly reduce the hive-inducing fear of evangelism.
Morgan writes: "Open your front door and head down the street in your neighborhood. Notice the mom pushing a stroller, the retiree walking his dog. At a stoplight look over at the person next to you. Watch the shoppers at your local mall. Meet the gaze of the grocery store clerk bagging your vegetables. In our dark world, people need light. The light of God in us changes the very nature of darkness. God challenges us to shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the Word of life."
So, all together now: "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, this little light of mine, I'm gonna..."
Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel on January 1, 2006
Twinkle: Sharing Your Faith a Little Light at a Time