"The problem is not that students dont believe in Jesus, but that they dont believe in anybody who believes in Jesus." Jacob Aranza
You go through the cafeteria line at school, eyeing the "gobbledygook" they have billed as meatloaf. As you walk to a table, youre dreaming of a burger, fries, and a large Coke. When you sit down, you are jarred back into reality by the conversations. Two guys are saying, "That girl is a babe!" (and thats putting it mildly). Another group is making plans for the "I Tappa Keg" drinking blowout the next night. Still a third group is arguing over the finer philosophical points of the latest R-rated movie. As a Christian youre sitting there listening to all of this incredibly inane conversation by people you really care about.
How should you respond?
When I first met Tim, his pants sagged, his hair was half-shaved, he had two earrings in both ears, and an attitude that said, "Get out of my face or Ill break yours." I learned that Tim was good with his hands, especially remodeling other kids noses. Constantly fighting, he spent a good bit of his time on suspension from school.
After spending several months trying to get to know him, a wall still remained. He would not talk about any thing serious, much less about Jesus Christ. I could sense the tension when Jesus was mentioned.
You probably have some relationships like that. While working with Tim I found in the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:7-42) some very powerful communication keys that helped me to unlock the door of Tims life and express Christ to him.
Maybe they will help you unlock the doors of some of your friends lives too. God wants to use you to reach into the lives of your friends. That will happen only when you know how to open the door of their lives with courage, boldness, and sensitivity.
Locker Opener 1: Initiate Relationships
Have you ever noticed that Jesus life was filled with significant conversations with others? He had a way of getting people to talk about the personal issues in their lives.
Look at John 4:6-7 to discover why people opened up to Christ. Even though He was hot and tired, Jesus took the initiative in friendship. He didnt wait for the woman to speak to Him. He spoke to her. Without speaking the first time, He would never have been able to continue the conversation. He opened the door by being friendly Himself.
With Tim, I had to initiate the relationship. He never would have. As I spent more and more time with him, he gradually opened up. At first he wouldnt talk much at all. But as I continued to be his friend, he gave me little glimpses into his life. Then one day through tears he shared he was thinking about killing himself.
We talked. From that day on we could talk
openly about anything.
1. Take time.
3. Hang tough.
People dont care how much you know until they know how much you care!
Add to the following list two "pains" that your friends have experienced in the past year:
Try one or two of these personal questions to get beyond a surface conversation and into the pain in your friends life.
When you put some of these suggestions into action to initiate friendships, then you will make a significant difference in the lives of some people at your school.
Locker Opener 2: Communicate Love and Acceptance
When a friend senses that you have more concern for getting his life right than for loving him, he will become defensive instead of hearing what you have to say.
Thats not whet Jesus communicated to the woman well. Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink, disarming her, causing her to relax (John 4:7). And as the conversation proceeded, He communicated love and acceptance until she felt so comfortable that she said, "Give me I water so I wont get thirsty" (v. 15). You can build an atmosphere of love and acceptance with your friends by using these suggestions.
1. Dont embarrass.
2. Dont offend.
So how can you avoid being an obnoxious Christian?
Out of a heart of love for your friends, you can treat each one with dignity and respect. Realize that each one is created in the image of God. Through Christ, God wants to restore each one to His image. He will use you by inserting the key of love and acceptance to open that door.
Locker Opener 3: Relate Christ to Your
Friends Personal Needs and Problems.
Jesus gave that kind of hope to the woman at the well. When Jesus talked with her, He didnt jump right in with, "Give me three good reasons why you shouldnt go to hell."
Rather He had a concern for her needs and told her how those needs could be met. How did He do that in John 4:13-14?
One night in a discussion, Tim told the group that his father had left his family a few years ago. He said he had assumed much of the responsibility for raising his little brothers and sister. Because he didnt have anyone to be a father to him, he was very lonely. We took that opportunity to talk with him about how God desires to be his Father, filling the "empty places" his earthly father had created.
The best way to share Gods love is to relate how His love meets needs. In Tims case, he needed a father.
Everyone has personal needs and problems. They will surface soon enough. As you try to relate Jesus and His love to their needs, then God will use you to open the door of their hearts and let His love shine in.
Locker Opener 4: Relate Your Personal Experience
Your friends need to move from thinking about Jesus as external religion to understanding that He is internal reality. They need a picture of who God is. Jesus gives that to the woman in John 4:13-14. What does He tell her?
One of the best ways to do this is through communicating your own personal experience with Jesus.
With Tim we looked for opportunities to give him a picture of God through our lives. One day he talked about his concern for paying a speeding ticket due the next day. He was worried because he did not have the money. The Lord impressed us that we were to help pay for the ticket.
Initially Tim refused, saying, "You have bills of your own that you need to pay." This opened the door to tell him several personal experiences about how Christ had taken care of our needs.
Every Christian has a powerful personal testimony. Sometimes people feel that if they werent drug addicts before they accepted Christ, their testimony is not valid. NOT! Your testimony is a picture of who God is in you, no matter what your background.
To become more effective in sharing your personal experience with God, follow these helpful hints.
1. Prepare your testimony.
__ Check here when you have written your testimony.
Once you have written your testimony take time to memorize it and practice sharing it.
__ Check here when you have memorized your testimony.
2. Present your testimony.
__ Check here when you have given your testimony to a friend.
It is so simple to receive Christ but most people struggle with the simplicity. Your friend will need for you to draw him a simple picture. How did Jesus do that in John 4:25-26?
One night Tim said to us "I want to have what you have." We werent sure what he was talking about. I questioned him further. He replied, "Can you tell me how I can know the God I see in you?"
The door doesnt open any wider than that. At Hardees over a Coke and some curly fries I had had the privilege of introducing Tim to my friend, Jesus Christ.
It doesnt get any better than leading someone to Christ.
1. Turn the conversation.
To make that transition ask these questions:
2. Communicate the message clearly.
You can do that by following these instructions.
3. Ask discerning questions.
Listen to the response. If he says something
like, "I try to be good," or "I go to church every Sunday," or seems
apathetic, you can be sure he hasnt grasped the real meaning of the gospel.
4. Challenge to accept Christ.
If he says "yes," then lead him in the prayer to accept Christ. Have him pray the prayer aloud.
After praying with Tim, I began to ask him if he understood all that I said. He nodded yes. Then I questioned him to make sure. He wanted Christ in his life and he wanted Him now. I led Tim in a prayer to receive Christ. After he prayed he said, "This is the first time my heart has ever felt clean."
If your friend says "no" then follow through on the next step.
5. Keep On Sharing Christ
As I shared the love of Christ with Pete, he seemed very interested. I asked him if the prayer at the end of The Facts of Life expressed his hearts desire. He was very polite. He told me that he respected what I had to say, but in no uncertain terms he told me, "I dont believe that God exists. And if there is no God, then there isnt any need for me to have a relationship with God." He had a point.
Those who do accept Christ ...
The story of Jesus and the woman at the well concludes the way you want your burden for your campus to conclude. See what happened in John 4:39-41.
Good news travels fast! The Samaritan woman couldnt contain herself. She had to share the love of God with others and it had a multiplying effect.
Remember Tim? Since he has accepted Christ, he has talked with a number of his friends about Christ. One was Pete. Once a total agnostic, Pete now meets with Tim every week.
God is continually in the process of bringing people to Himself. He allows you to enter into this incredible adventure! As you love God and your friends, God will cause you to become boldly unashamed of the gospel. As you let the gospel be the "power of God" in your own life He will use you to influence more people than you can imagine! Possibly your entire campus!