Fear in evangelizing. A liar, yet normative.

Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world— what is viewed as nothing — to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence. 30 It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us — our righteousness,sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speechand my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 1:26-2:5 CSB)

Having fear in sharing your faith is normal. Note what the Apostle Paul says in verse 3– “…in fear…” and this relative to “announcing the mystery of God.” Fear, for Paul, was a normative aspect involved in sharing. Now, to be clear, in reading his epistles this fear was specific to greater dangers than you or I will probably face. Whippings. Lashings. Beatings. Sleep deprivation. Rebels. Etc. Second Corinthians reveals the depth of suffering that the Apostle Paul went through to share the Gospel. Nonetheless, fear is normal for you and I. And besides, if Paul extols the grace and providence of God during these moments, what excuse do I have?

I’ve admitted many times my fear of rejection, among many other fears. However, this should not prohibit or stop me from sharing my faith. In fact, notice with me, that all the things that we fear, Paul used as a platform in evangelizing! I want to address some of these fears and show that the Apostle Paul had the same. But, we see hope and encouragement that these fears, in the economy of God, are used to bring God glory and ensure those who receive our message know it’s from God and not us! Paul teaches us that the fears we have, if we turn them inside out, are actually opportunities. These are the platform for God’s glory!

  • Fear #1: I do not have enough knowledge. I do not know enough.
    • Paul says, “I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom (vs. 1)”…”I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (vs. 2). Let’s just admit, we’ll never have all the answers to all the questions thrown at us. However, if you have a testimony of faith and the Scriptures as your guide, the Holy Spirit will speak for you. Look, it’s about sharing Jesus. Share Jesus! What did He do for you? Tell someone that. In that, you’ll be sharing the gospel.
  • Fear #2: I stutter with my words. I don’t make any sense. I look and sound silly.
    • Paul says, “I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom (vs. 1)”…My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words” (vs. 4). Another way of defining this fear is to say, for most of us, we are insecure. For some, very insecure. According to his own testimony, Paul was not a great public speaker. I suspect he stuttered. I suspect he used “common speech” to get his point across. I suspect he had a difficult time finding the ‘right’ words. I suspect he relied deeply upon the Holy Spirit (vs. 4b). The Holy Spirit makes sense of what doesn’t to us. Our insecurity is torched by the sovereign work of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s not about you anyway.
  • Fear #3: I will be rejected.
    • Allow me to jump back to Acts, particularly chapter 18. This is where Paul founded the Corinthian church. What do we notice? Well, several things, but one in particular relative to the above fear of rejection. In verse 6-7 it is recorderd, “When they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his clothes and told them, “Your blood is on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Paul was rejected (“resisted/blasphemed”), but he teaches us that the sharing of the gospel is worth rejection to ultimately be free from the blood of the men and women we share with. Everyone will spend eternity somewhere. Do you feel the weight of that? Let’s not forget, Jesus was rejected (John 15:18-25). It’s been said, if we share the gospel and it is received, we win. However, if we share the gospel and it is rejected, we still win. As we follow after Jesus, we accept His reputation…and He has told us the world hated Him before it hated us. And just as a personal note…99.9% of the time, as you share the gospel people will listen and appreciate that you did.
  • Fear #4: I don’t want to lead someone wrong in making a decision for Christ.
    • Back to Acts 18. Note Paul’s understanding as he shared: “He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4). Directly before that in Acts 17:16-18 he was “reasoning” with those at the synagogue and in the marketplace. The Bible says he even “debated” some (vs. 18). Jump to 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your consciences.” When we share, we ought to have such a love and concern for the souls of people that we “persuade” them to accept the truth. We trust the Holy Spirit to guide us to the people that need to hear, to have confidence that every moment of our life is an ordained moment from God, to give us words in sharing, and to lead people to the moment of either receiving or accepting the offer to follow Christ. We have a persuasive Gospel! We would never set the table for a feast and not invite our guests to partake.

These are not all our fears, but some that I feel are appropriate to mention.

One more thing. We don’t share so we get the glory. We share so that those who receive the truth have a faith based upon the power of God, not human wisdom (2 Cor. 2:5)! Amen.

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