Recently God has told me to reach out to a peer who has walked away from his faith. God provided me with feelings of compassion and care and spoke to me in the most miraculous ways. I definitely know this is not a personal desire but something God wants me to do. He has proved that to me.
I am not that close with the person I have been told to reach out to. So I am trying to find ways and ask God how I can really reach out to him. So far I have recognized that:
- God is ultimately in control.
- I can’t fix his problems, but I can attend to his needs.
- Be patient.
- I must present myself so that he can see Jesus in me.
- I have also read a few important Bible passages on this.
It is a deep task placed on my heart, and I have been searching the Bible for answers and evangelism techniques.
I was just wondering if there is anything major I am missing or a way to let this friend reconsider coming back to God without intimidating or offending him. Of course I pray about him every day as I care for his faith and future. It was quite random when God provided me with the opportunity to do this, but I know I must listen closely and follow every instruction.
Thank you for writing about your enthusiasm for sharing Jesus with your unbelieving friend. It’s wonderful when we sense the Spirit prompting us to obey God’s Word. I’m glad to hear that you are reading your Bible and searching for answers there. This is necessary both for your own spiritual growth as well as for Christ-honoring evangelism.
As thrilling as it is to think you’ve heard a new and miraculous word from God, it is essential that you weigh what you are feeling against what God has already said. I love the way John Piper marvels that “God wrote a book” — that He “forfeits His own personal privacy that His creatures might know Him,” as Carl Henry so helpfully put it. God has told us what His will is in words that we can understand. It is easy to lose sight of the miracle of that. But we must encourage one another to keep it in view and to embrace the regular discipline of reading, studying and meditating on God’s Word.
One of the things the Bible so helpfully teaches us is that it is sufficient for life and godliness, that we don’t need extra-biblical revelations to know God’s will and that anything we think we hear God saying that contradicts the Bible is, in fact, not from God. Knowing what He has said safeguards against making too much of thoughts that pop into your head — especially when they’re accompanied by strong emotions. The conviction that it’s God’s will for you to reach out to your friend with the truth of Christ’s redeeming work on His behalf is consistent with Scripture (Matthew 28:19).
But how you go about reaching out must also align with God’s Word.
You mention God’s sovereignty over salvation (Ephesians 1:4, Revelation 17:8), being patient (2 Corinthians 6:6), and being someone in whom others see Jesus (2 Corinthians 2:15). All of these things are true and good. One of the points you made, however, concerns me.
You said, “I can’t fix his problems, but I can attend to his needs.” In this you must be wise. While this may not be the case for you, often when a Christian single woman is ministering to an unbelieving single man, the excitement of a spiritual connection can quickly turn into a romantic hope. We know from Scripture that a romance between unbelievers is not God’s will (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Your friend will be best served and most helped by having godly, wise men come alongside him in friendship. They can meet him one-on-one for Bible reading and discipleship without mistaking it for a date. The same can’t be said of two singles meeting at a coffee shop for face-to-face conversation. (It’s for this same reason that I wouldn’t meet a single man to discuss his faith and that neither my husband, Steve, nor I would meet someone of the opposite sex for spiritual conversations.) We must strive for utmost purity, give no opportunity for sin, and avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Timothy 5:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:22). In his letter to Titus Paul commands older women to teach younger women, and older men to teach younger men.
It’s important, therefore, to ground your outreach in a healthy local church. Hopefully this describes the body of which you’re already a member; where you have the oversight and help of a pastor and elders. The most effective and biblical way you can reach out to him is to invite him to enter into the life of your church, beginning with Sunday morning worship. He needs to hear the Word preached. This is how God saves sinners:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:14-17, emphasis added).
Tell your friend about Jesus’ atoning work on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. Pray that God will show him his sin and reveal himself in glory to his darkened heart. Invite him into the life of the church. And trust God for the fruit. It is the Spirit that gives new life according to the will of the Father. Jesus said,
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. … And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father’ (John 6:63, 65).
Copyright 2015 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.