I live in Denver, CO and my church is across the street from Sports Authority Stadium (where the Broncos play, for those of you who are unfamiliar). So every time there is a home game, we open up our parking lots for the fans and we stand at every cross street around the church handing out free bottles of water along with a booklet which has Broncos trivia on one side and the Gospel presentation on the back. We, as a church, hand out about 2,000 bottles of water/tracks every single game. The last time I was out, I was standing at a red light and my friends and I were giving water bottles to people as they were waiting to cross the street. Someone asked me why we were out there doing what we were doing, and I pointed up to the church (it sits on a hill overlooking the city), and said “We are from the church and are just out loving our community”. My friend, however, took the opportunity to explain the love of God for us and our desire to honor Him by loving and serving them and telling them about Jesus.
Talk about conviction.
We talked about it at small group, reflecting on Paul’s instruction and desire to make the most of every. single. opportunity.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
– Col 4.2-6
Now, I am tempted, and my friends were tempted, to appease my conviction by saying, “You do not have to say ‘Jesus’ every time”, “You said you were from the Church, people know what that means”, “maybe talking about Jesus would have driven them away”, and other platitudes of the sort.
But Jesus was clear:
“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”
– Matt 10.33
If we deny Jesus, He will deny us. Those words are clear. Black and white. There is no doubt about what Jesus was saying here. Now, we might be tempted to say, “You did not deny Jesus in the water bottle exchange”. No, not in the sense of saying, “I do not know Jesus, I do not serve him”, or something of the like. But I denied Him in silence. I chose to not take the opportunity to share. I chose silence. This is why Paul asked the Colossians to pray: that He would not chose silence, but would make the most of every situation.
Here’s the good news. Succumbing to weakness it not necessarily the final nail in your or my proverbial coffin. On the night before and day that Jesus died, all of the disciples except John walked away from Jesus. Peter, the ring leader of the disciples, actually denied having any relationship with Jesus three times. And yet after the resurrection, Jesus forgave Peter and welcomed the other ten back into fellowship and commissioned them to make disciples of the world.
Later on we learn that Peter gave in to the influence of the Jews and tried to tell non-Jews that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved. He changed the Gospel. And not only that, he quit hanging out with people who were not circumcised because he wanted to look good to the Jews. But the apostle Paul called him out and restored him.
Judas also denied Jesus, and was not forgiven. Even though Judas walked with Jesus for three years, saw all of the signs and heard all of the teachings, and also was given the ability and permission to perform miracles with the rest of the disciples, his denial was final and led to eternal damnation.
If you chose silence, if you take the cowardly way out of a conversation, if you actually deny Jesus, there is a possibility of forgiveness. But it is centered in repentance and change. You have to claim Jesus. Otherwise, He will deny you to the Father.
Where do you stand today? Is your faith something personal that you do not want anyone asking about? Is other people’s faith none of your concern? Do you make the most out of every opportunity to talk about Jesus and win people to the Lord? Let us claim Jesus and pray for boldness!