Participating, not initiating

Graphic of two people in conversation found via GoogleWhen it comes to sharing the Good News, I’m tempted to think that I’m the one who’s supposed to make people interested in Jesus and matters of faith. Believing that, however, betrays how I think I’m more important than I really am! Yes, God uses me and you to do important work in his Kingdom, but he’s always a step ahead of us – getting us ready and preparing situations for our arrival on the scene. That is, we’re not supposed to initiate getting someone interested in Jesus; we’re called to participate in how God is already at work in that person’s life.

The apostle Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with thanksgiving to God for the church of Philippi and then says this: “[I am] confident of this, that he [that is, God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” It wasn’t Paul who began the process of the Philippians becoming partners with him in sharing the Gospel; it was God who got the ball rolling. The same remains true for us in our encounters with people who are not yet Christians: The Holy Spirit who guides our words and actions is also nudging and warming the heart of the individual who doesn’t know Jesus yet and is waiting for us to introduce him.

Knowing this is very liberating. Instead of worrying about how to convincingly show and tell someone about Jesus, we can first listen to what’s going on in his or her life. Something they figure is a coincidence or has no meaning might actually be God at work – it’s just that they need us to gently help them recognize it! Or maybe the answer to something that is perplexing them can be found in the Bible – it’s just that they need us to winsomely point it out! What’s more, something as simple as our interest in them might be what the Holy Spirit uses to help them see that God is interested in them, too.

Talking about faith with people who do not walk with Jesus is daunting. But I find courage in knowing that in those special moments where God is leading me to give witness to him, God is going before me, preparing both me and the other person.

I wrote this a few weeks ago for “Grace Encounters,”
the newsletter of
Trinity CRC’s Outreach Team.

2 thoughts on “Participating, not initiating

  1. Carla Walhof says:

    Thanks for this reflection! Thanks for putting this in perspective for me as well.


  2. Stanley J. Groothof says:

    You’re welcome, Carla. Thanks for reading! ~Stanley


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