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Ready for the Road Ahead

 

            Our tour group walked into the ancient city of Philippi on a beautiful day.  The sky was a pleasant blue filled with puffy white clouds.  But we recognized it only as a good back drop for the pictures we were taking.  Underneath our feet was the weathered Roman road, the Via Egnatia (Vee-ah Egg-nay-she-uh), one of the key elements in the spread of the Gospel.  It was especially moving for me.  Not only did Paul, Silas, Timothy and Lydia walk along this road, but countless "no names"; the people who were touched by the Gospel, but whose names were never recorded across the pages of Scripture.   They were my "spiritual" ancestors who first spread the Good News on this very road.

            When most disciples think about sharing their faith, they think in terms of Billy Graham Crusades, missionaries like Jim Elliot, and people they know who "have the gift of evangelism".  But these are more the exception than the rule.  The Via Egnatia is certainly proof of that.  While the activities of Philip, Peter and Paul are featured in the Book Acts, the unsung heroes are all the others who responded initially to their proclamation and then went on to share it with those they knew.  The spread of the Gospel was like the old commercial where an "average person" held up a bottle of shampoo and declared, "I was so pleased with this product, I told my friend!"  The screen continues to divide as friend after friend spreads the word about this fabulous product.  It was the same with the Gospel.  It was passed on to friend, after friend, after friend.

            We often think that we must know at least 100 Scripture verses by memory, and have all the points of the Four Spiritual Laws memorized in order to adequately share our faith with others.  We think that God demands this, but we are wrong.  The model for sharing our faith is actually set in the Old Testament in the Book of Deuteronomy.  In chapter 6 the Lord admonishes the people of Israel to teach their children diligently to follow God's commands.  They are to make it a part of their daily routine: while at home, while walking along the road, while resting, and while they prepare to work.  In other words, it's a natural part of the conversation.

            Sharing our faith is as simple as that.  It's part of our natural conversation, because it is who we are as a disciple of Christ.  We can't help but tell others about what we've discovered.  When Andrew met Jesus, he was so glad to have found the Messiah, he went and got Peter (Jn. 1:41).  Philip sought out Nathaniel in the same way (Jn. 1:45).  If you're hesitant about sharing your faith with others, remember you do not need to be a Bible scholar or debate team captain to share about your experiences as Jesus' disciple.  Many times you will be surprised at how receptive people can be.   Even Paul, whom we like to label as the greatest evangelist of all time, let the Gospel speak for itself (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

            I can honestly say that I am not bold when it comes to sharing what I believe with others.  I am constantly asking the Lord to step in and take over when I feel timid.  But I am never disappointed when I surrender those fears.  That trip to Greece during my seminary days proved to be a valuable lesson on this.  For later on, I stood with a classmate at Mars Hill in Athens, and as we discussed how the Gospel had spread along the Roman road system, a young woman from England overheard us.  She asked me to repeat it.  I was happy to oblige.  And while I recounted how the Gospel traveled along those ancient roads, I included its message and how it eventually came to me.  Who knows what seeds were planted that day!

Ann LeFevre                                                                                                             3/6/2011

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