Obstacles or Opportunities

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As is true with many activities, a large part of witnessing is mental. Just like it helps athletes to plan what they will do in various situations, so also with witnesses. I have gotten into some good discussions when I thought beforehand how I might respond to certain statements. When I didn’t do that, I often thought of a good response an hour or even a day after the discussion.

That is just one example of many of how it helps to prepare ourselves mentally for witnessing. When I take time to think about the power of God’s Word, I become more confident. When I see people as victims of false teaching rather than as the enemy, I become more compassionate. And when I view changes in society or in a particular religion as opportunities rather than obstacles, I become excited about the possibilities.

Take, for example, Mormonism’s increasing insistence that it is a Christian religion. I realize that it has been doing this for a number of years but, from a wider perspective, this is a recently new development. I vividly remember regularly speaking with LDS members 20 years ago who didn’t want to be identified as a Christian. The reason I mention it here is that Christians still regularly lament to me what an annoying obstacle this has become for them. “How can I talk to my Mormon friends if they already think they are Christian? And how dare they claim that anyway!”

Instead of seeing this claim as an obstacle, I prefer to see it as an opportunity. I have used that claim many a time to get into a fruitful witness. When a LDS member brings that up I quickly reply that I don’t like to discuss that because people define “Christian” in so many different ways. Almost inevitably they ask me what my definition is. “A person who is already perfect and worthy in Christ and knows that they are going to be living eternally with Heavenly Father.” That reply usually focuses the discussion exactly where I want it – on the great joy and assurance I have because of what Jesus has done for me.

Broadening the scope, many Christians are rightfully lamenting the speedy moral decline of our society. But far fewer are seeing that as also giving them opportunities to share God’s message of love to an increasing number of hurting people. Many observers are commenting that today’s society is resembling more and more that of the first century AD. And we all know how fertile a ground that was for the spread of Christianity. I love what St. Paul did in Athens. Yes, he was distressed by all the idolatry. But he also saw an opportunity in Athenians’ altar to the unknown god. And he made the most of that opportunity and shared with them the message of Jesus, their Savior. (For the whole story read Acts 17.)

Opportunities or obstacles. How you view things makes a tremendous difference. Because God is in control – because God wants all people to come to the knowledge of the truth – we can be confident that he will continue to give us many opportunities to share his Word.

May our eyes always be open to them so that we make the most of them.