Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sharing the Living Water #2

The second factor that makes sharing Jesus elegant is openness. Openness is authentic, transparent, sharing, available, and emotionally above board. The opposite of openness is devious, closed, shady, two-faced, deceitful, biased, gamy, withholding and secretive. Openness is what makes a believers message credible and helps the listener to trust what is being said. If trust is weak, openness will be, as well.

Open about what? Stories of how you came to Jesus, a before and after snapshot. What changed? How did the story affect you spiritually, emotionally and physically? What did you do different? I listen to these things with rapt attention when people are willing to share them and each story brings me closer to Jesus. Even though I have been a Christian for what....29 years....each testimony of faith reminds me of what a precious Savior we have. God reminds me, through each story that I am loved and he convicts my heart again of my salvation. It usually makes me cry. It always makes me grateful. Openness takes the story of Jesus off the pages of the Bible and makes it seem real, relevant and genuine to the listener.

Openness gives permission for others to talk about themselves. Vulnerability begets vulnerability. Openness is disarming and says to the other, "Be straightforward with me because I can handle it." Openness lets the listener know that what is being said is serious, relevant and meaningful to you. "Do as I do, not just as I say." Openness clears up misunderstandings and levels the playing field saying, "I am not better than you, I am just like you."

Were you a drug addict before Jesus? Talk about it as God moves you to. God is going to use your story to introduce salvation into people's life. Did you struggle with porn, extramarital affairs or other sexual issues before coming to Jesus? You can bet that God is going to use your story to help others get free of sexual sin and come to Him. Did you struggle with gossip, bitterness or childhood abuse? God is going to use your story to bring in the hurt, abused and lonely. Whatever the 'before' picture looked like, God wants others to see it.

Several years ago a man named Kelly shared his testimony in front of a thousand people at my church. His story was about how Jesus saved him from meth. He cried as he went into the gory details about what he did to get meth. Through tears, he talked about how Jesus saved him. That was 14 years ago and I can remember it like it was yesterday. Kelly's story profoundly changed my heart as I cried (along with everyone else). Hundreds of people embraced him afterwards, thankful for his testimony. His story brought salvation alive unlike any sermon I have ever heard. It was beautiful.

On a scale of one to ten (one not at all, ten very much so) how open are you? What keeps you from being more open?

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