I have spent a large proportion of my life trying my absolute best to avoid questions about my faith. I have left saunas, feigned the need to visit the bathroom and changed many a conversation to avoid having to go there. It’s just awkward.
When I was younger – although I’d never admit it, even to myself – this was because I knew being a Christian means I was different from the others at my school, and I didn’t want to be different, I wanted to fit in. I knew it was wrong, but rather than divulging the reasons why I didn’t go to netball club on a Sunday morning or why I wasn’t going trick or treating, I just did my best to avoid the topic ever arising. Leave the room, pretend to read, look busy. That way, I didn’t have to tell my friends I was different, and didn’t have to admit to myself that I didn’t want to be.
But then I got older, and a little bit wiser. I began to realise that different was fine – and that when different meant having a relationship with the living God, well, different was downright amazing. But I still wasn’t feeling ready to share. Every time I went through the faith-sharing scenario in my head, I tripped up. I said the wrong thing. Doubted whether the answer I gave to this imaginary question was actually right. I couldn’t share this faith I had with others – I wasn’t clever enough. I didn’t have a theologically-watertight argument about why God allows suffering. All I know is God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son, and in accepting Him into your life comes freedom, acceptance and ever-lasting life. But I’m not clever enough to explain that to someone on the outside, am I?
But during the last few years, things have changed. Research like the Talking Jesus report that shows that non-Christians actually really like their Christian friends. That’s encouraging. Evangelists, who lead hundreds to faith on a big stage, now keep telling us that actually the most fruitful way of sharing faith is one-to-one conversations with close friends about the difference Jesus makes in my life. Doesn’t that just make you wonder if you could share your faith, after all? I’ve also been reminded time and time again that God loves these people more than I ever could, and my only job is to invite them into this relationship. The rest is up to them – and Him, of course.
So, while I won’t be running out of friends to evangelise to any time soon, I’m now letting faith be a topic that’s on the table. No more running away, and no more thinking it’s up to someone with a theology degree to do the job. I’m praying for courage, the words to say and for my friends to not think I’m a looney. You’re welcome to join me.