Five Words is all you need
The moving truck has just pulled in to the house next door.
The new employee begins today.
A new year at school for your children begins.
Off to the market and you get the same store clerk at checkout again.
These are all typical happenings in our lives that bring with them an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. Who is this new family? Is this employee going to become a friend? What type of interaction with the new teacher will happen this school year? Are they religious? Are they Christian?
In a global society such as ours, they most likely will not be Christian. You now have two choices: never tell them the good news because you don’t know how OR talk to them even if you’re nervous.
I don’t know what to say
Most of us will be nervous when getting to know someone new. Most of us won’t start the conversation about the Gospel because either we think that’s for pastors or we make the excuse, “I don’t know what to say.”
Well, first, we no longer live in a Christian society. Many of us (over 50+ years old) grew up where the majority of our friends and family attended church somewhere. There was prayer in school and bibles were permitted on campus. We knew Sundays the neighbors were most likely at church in the morning.
Today it is completely different. As my husband and I pull out of our driveway early Sunday morning, everyone else’s car/truck is still parked and the lights are usually out in their homes. As we drive through town, where there usually isn’t too much traffic, on Sundays there is almost no traffic except those going to the Mormon Stakehouse. We arrive at church having been the lone car on the drive, for the most part.
We live in a secular world. Sadly, even for Christians, church is not important. Of course, that is probably because the church has become so law-driven (you must obey the command to come, you must do something for God…) that folks figure they can worship God in their own way and not be bound up with duty. Scripture, though, gives a completely different reason for going: God wants to serve you through the forgiveness of your sins and strengthening your faith through the preached Word and the Lord’s Supper. But, that is on a different blog post here.
So, your neighbor no longer attends church, maybe they never did. Their children have no idea the reason behind Christmas and Easter and schools no longer call those days off after the holiday but instead Winter and Spring Break. The Gospel is removed from their life and in our society they probably have never even heard it. What are you to do? You’re a mom, dad, wife, husband, aunt, uncle and not a pastor. You never went to Bible school. You’re not a seminary graduate. You’ve never studied other religions or the Bible formally. What can you say?
Five simple words. Just five (5) words that can change their life here and eternally. Five. That seems easy enough. Count the fingers on your hand; one, two, three, four, five. That’s it. What are these words? Are they easy to remember? If you’re a believer you know them already:
Christ died for your sins.
That’s it? That’s all you need to learn? In essence, Yes. Let me break it down.
1 Corinthians 15 says,
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…”
Hey, that’s a lot more than five words. Nope. Take a closer look. Here, let me highlight them for you:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Cor. 15:3)
Paul is sharing about the Lord’s Supper and the simple creed that he was taught about it, about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here, within that statement are the five words you need to know to tell others about Jesus: Christ died for our sins.
Now, let me break it down for you so that you can share with the unchurched around you or the neighbor/friend/teacher/co-worker/etc who might even be of a different religion. (Also, many of your evangelical friends suffer from the pendulum swing of pride and despair because they have a debilitated gospel, so it’s good for them too.)
The Five Words
Christ. What do we mean? Who are we talking about? Okay, for all you non-theologians without formal bible training you know who this is: Jesus. Christ means anointed one. So, Jesus was set apart by God to die for our sins.
Died. Yes, this Jesus died. He was crucified (you all know Passion Week and Good Friday) by the Roman leader after the Jewish religious leaders had him arrested. He did nothing wrong (sin) his entire life and only raised others from the dead, healed them and taught them about God. This Jesus did really and actually die. They buried him. Don’t leave Jesus in the tomb here because He isn’t there. All other leaders and founders of religions still remain in their tomb. They’re dead. Jesus is alive.
This is the pivot point in your conversation. You’ve told them about Jesus. You told them he died. Well, we all die. What makes His death any different? This next word is what the next two hinge upon.
For. Why? If Jesus was chosen and set apart by God, why did He have to die? If He did nothing wrong, why was He tortured on a cross? What does it matter to me? We all die.
Our. That’s everybody. That’s not just some people but every single person ever conceived in this world. You. Me. Neighbor. Teacher. Store Clerk. Employee. Employer. Every single person who ever lived and died is included in this word. Ours. Yours. Mine. Everyone. That means this message is for the unchurched, the irreligious, the religious or spiritual, even the evangelical who doubts their salvation. This includes…well, EVERYBODY.
Sins. Oh…hold on there. Wait just one minute. Sins? Are you telling me I’m not good enough? Are you getting all religious on me now? Well, quite frankly, Yes. See, we have all sinned. (oh, that’s in the Bible too in Romans 3:23: For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.)
This is where you can share that you too don’t even measure up to your own standards. Talk to them about how you’re not a great parent, you lose your cool with your children or others. Be honest. You too are a great sinner in need of a greater Savior (Jesus Christ). This is where they’ll balk at your message (the Gospel) but this is what they need to hear so desperately. Tell them that this is exactly what Jesus died for (remember that pivotal point?). Explain to them that this is exactly why Jesus is the one chosen for this task. Teach them that this is the reason He died and rose again for. Proclaim the Gospel to them.
If you just shared these five words with them…guess what, you just did. You just shared the Good News that salvation has come to them that day so do not reject it but believe and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.
We live in a world where your neighbor, co-worker/employee, friends, family, your child’s teacher or others within your social circle will no longer go to church unless they are already believers in Jesus Christ. Sadly, many believers also reject the Divine Service because it becomes a chore and something they have to do, aka law and not Gospel. So, it is up to the people in the pew to proclaim this fantastic, amazing, awesome Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to them through our conversations. I know it is hard. I may seem to be bold and outspoken, and to many I am, but I still get nervous. My heart flutters, the elephants trample in my stomach, my knees knock, hands get all sweaty and I get nervous but when you realize that the fires of hell are licking at their heels and they will not “hear without someone preaching/proclaiming” (Rom 10:14).
Then it will need to be you who has beautiful feet to proclaim the good news. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ, I encourage you to throw caution to the wind and proclaim Christ died for YOUR sins to your neighbor (and remember, Jesus taught the world is our neighbor in Luke 10:25-37).
God has also chosen to use jars of clay (2 Cor. 7). Clay jars can be shattered into a million pieces but you are that jar of clay God uses to spread the fragrance of the Gospel to others.
Five words. Five very important words. Five life-giving and life-altering, well, okay, eternity altering words. Just Five.