ur son, Brian, was fast approaching a milestone—his
16th birthday. We had decided to surprise him with a totally redecorated room
featuring his favorite colors, artists’ depictions of his favorite
sport—hunting—and, most important, a new stereo sound system!
Cheryl (my bargain-seeking wife) had discovered a
sale at a major department store 40 miles away. (I wondered if we had used up
what we saved at the "sale" by the time we drove there!) They had "just the
right comforter" for Brian’s bed.
Cheryl explained to the sales clerk that
she had called, and they had promised to hold a comforter for her.
Unexpectedly—and rudely— the sales clerk said, "We would never do that! We
never hold sales items for customers!" The more Cheryl tried to convince the
sales clerk, the ruder the clerk became.
As I was pulling Cheryl toward the door, a second
clerk who had overheard the exchange asked Cheryl the details. Cheryl explained
how offended she was by the clerk, who had, in essence, called her a liar. This
kinder sales person asked for Cheryl’s name and telephone number, and we exited
the store with disappointment and frustration.
When we arrived home the telephone rang. It was the
store manager. She apologized to Cheryl and explained that the sales person was
out of line. She went on to say that the intention of the company was always to
underpromise and over-deliver and that they would do whatever it took to meet
the customer’s needs. Then the amazing happened. She asked Cheryl if it would
help correct the unfortunate altercation if the store gave her the comforter at
no cost and reduced the price on the accompanying sheets and accessories. I
watched as my wife became stunned and exuberant—at the same time! After that, I
heard Cheryl take every chance to recommend the store to friends, telling them
how they had done so much more than she ever hoped or expected.
I have thought about that principle often when it
comes to sharing Christ. Cheryl "evangelized" (told the good news) because of
what she had experienced personally. Her needs had been not only met but also
far exceeded. In the same way, we who have come to know Jesus Christ in a
personal relationship find Him able and willing not only to meet our needs but
to far exceed them.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians says that He is
able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Philippians tells us that we can do everything through him who gives [us]
strength (Philippians 4:13). And when that reality happens in our lives,
we want to tell others how amazing and wonderful Christ is.
Telling the good news is born primarily out of
relationship. And when that relationship meets and far exceeds our needs, we
are compelled to tell others. I am continually reminded that the
primary motive for evangelism is a personal relationship with Christ
that far exceeds expectations.
I must admit, however, that along the way, I have
found there can be more than one motive. In addition to a deep, abiding
relationship of love, I sometimes am motivated by others’ expectations and
knowing that I should be accountable if they asked whether I have shared Christ
lately. Occasionally a feeling of guilt after hearing someone share an
incredible witnessing experience has motivated me to talk with someone about
Christ. Other times I have been with friends who were focused on sharing
Christ, and the positive "pressure" of their peer relationship has propelled me
out of my comfort zone into conversation about the One who changed my life.
Whether you have one motive or several: In your
hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to
everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do
this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for
International MissionsDecember marks the season for the
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Please consider
prayerfully what you can do to help the more than 4,000 International Mission
Board missionaries as we share the hope of Christ together.
Bob Reccord is president of the North American
Mission Board, SBC, and author of the new book Forged by Fire: How God Shapes
Those He Loves (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000).
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC