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Friday, March 25, 2011

Facing the Fear of Sharing the Gospel

In Job 31, Job states that he has not been a sinful man, and did not have to hide his transgressions. In verse 34, he rhetorically asks his accusers if he had to hide,
Because I feared the great multitude,
And dreaded the contempt of families,
So that I kept silence
And did not go out of the door—
Though this verse was written for a different purpose, it also captures a situation that full-time missionaries can face each day when they have to go out and seek for people to teach. How easy it is to "dread the contempt of families" and instead "not go out of the door." In our "normal" lives, how easy it is to keep silent and not let others know what we believe and stand for, fearing the misunderstanding and even contempt that sometimes comes (though contempt may be imagined more often than actually faced).

One thing, though, should motivate us to forget ourselves and stand as witnesses of God in appropriate ways: love. Our love for others and our love for the Savior can give us courage to rise above the fears of then natural man, that natural coward, and become Saints who share and testify of the truth. We will each have our own style, but when we are prompted to do something, to say something, that is the time to take a risk and open our mouths, in love and respect, but with courage.

"Perfect love casteth out fear." (1 John 4:18) May we seek the miraculous gift of charity, the perfect love of Jesus Christ, that we may be useful instruments in the hands of God in serving and blessing others in this brief mortal journey.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. But a person has remember that contempt of families goes both ways. I think all of us know of member missionaries who go way too far.

Being silent at appropriate times is also a true gift, and a measure of courage. In your face syrupy solicitous tones when you talk does not show love.

Andrew said...

Great thoughts. And I also agree with the first comment. A few years ago my family would answer our then next-door neighbors questions about the Church. But one day a well-intentioned but perhaps misguided member of our ward "strongly encouraged" our neighbors to come to the ward breakfast as if it was a new ordinance of salvation. The neighbors wouldn't talk to us for about a month.

But you point out two important keys: to be motivated by love and to heed the promptings of the Spirit. Thanks for the reminder. I haven't been doing as well as I should.

(By the way, I have been reading your blog "in the shadows" for the past while and decided to step out into the light. Excellent work.)

Cindy said...

It seems that the story of Job also reminds us of a couple of missionary philosophies.

1. We should focus on our relationship with God first and foremost. "Doth not he see my ways? O God! thou hast searched me and known me."

2. We all sin, and when we do we should trust in God's perfect love enough to "cast out fear" and fearlessly admit to them rather than try to cover them before God or man. "But he that thus covers his sins shall not prosper," Prov. 28:13

3. We should always stand ready to fearlessly answer the questions of others when they ask about our willingness to admit our sinfulness.
A man who is willing to open the door to his heart and expose his sinfulness, AND who demonstrates hope in God for forgiveness is a powerful testimony.

What a beautiful and hopeful witness!

Papa D said...

I wrote a very short post related to this just over two years ago - "Rethinking Missionary Motivation".

(http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009/01/rethinking-missionary-motivation.html)

The key, to me, is to quit putting a time frame on teaching and conversion - and to quit seeing it as "missionary work" and simply as "sharing the Gospel" by sharing our own lives.

When my brother moved from Utah to Oklahoma, he was struck by how naturally others talked about church and church activities. There was no conversion-driven pressure - just naturally talking about one's life. I believe if we are willing to share our lives in this manner, it removes the burden and pressure of "doing missionary work" - and allows the Holy Ghost to work in whatever way will work for those who are ready to listen and learn more.

Creek said...

So true. My wife and I have been meeting with missionaries for the last 3 weeks and it has been interesting. About 20 minutes into our first meeting, they asked if we would be willing to be baptized on April 9th. Talk about jumping the gun. It was like being pressured by a used car salesman.
Now we are meeting with two different missionaries (females) and the meetings are going MUCH better!!

Cindy said...

Creek, I hope you will follow Papa's advice and examine the lives of the missionaries with whom you are talking. Do their lives reflect the peace and love that accompanies a complete trust in Christ for their eternal position with God?

A couple of good questions to ask of anyone when considering their religion is "what is required to earn the very best your religion has to offer?" "What must I do to get the very best that God has for me?"

Best of luck to you!

Faith said...

Christ is the reason;
Faith is the power;
Love is the key.

I heard this from a returned missionary.And I love this saying.

If our motivation is to serve Christ, we will conquer with love. Like Christ conquered death to offering us eternal life with his pure perfect love.

No one would be offended if our purpose is just to pass on the love of Christ to them.

Faith is the strength and courage for us to continue passing on the love of Christ.It's the power to help us share the gospel in Christ's love.

Christ is the reason, faith is the power, love is the key. :)

Faith said...

And I like PapaD's comment. "Sharing the gospel by sharing our own lives."

If we live a "gospel centered life", we are sharing the gospel silently but more powerfully.

It reminds me of the hymn that says "How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?
He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know." :)

Thanks for reminding us this simple way of sharing the gospel. :)

Anonymous said...

Jeff, just so you'll know--I'm trying not to accuse but merely to help you understand some of the reactions you might get--it can be really grating to nonbelievers to hear things like this:

"[O]ur love for the Savior can give us courage to rise above the fears of the natural man, that natural coward, and become Saints..."

Maybe it's not what you meant, but it sounds very much like you're calling atheists like me cowards (and rather self-servingly calling people like yourself the brave).

I had a similar moment awhile back when you wrote about how we could all "unite in prayer." That struck me as a bit like someone addressing a religiously diverse audience with the words, "Let us now unite in a prayer to Allah...." You meant to be inclusive, I'm sure, even though those who reject prayer were excluded from your call. (By way of contrast, believers and nonbelievers could find common ground in the desire to help, rather than pray for, Japan.)

This might seem a trivial point, but it seems to be rooted in what I would call the bad habit of not merely uniting, but uniting against--as when the LDS Church manages to settle its longstanding difference with Catholicism by uniting with it to fight against gay rights. Believe me, perceptive outsiders see right through that sort of thing. My first thought upon reading of the recent LDS-Catholic amity was, "Gee, the Mormons and the Catholics finally found someone they hate more than each other." A bit unfair, I admit--but I think I'm right about the essential dynamic of uniting against a common enemy, which is exclusionary and, unless the common enemy is as truly dangerous as, say, Hitler or Stalin, not rooted in anything I recognize as love.