“We don’t have gifts here. We have no money and there is nothing to buy in the stores. The best we can do is get together for a meal and sing carols—and make sure that the neighbors don’t hear us.”
How different Christmas is for my friend Victor Krutkow, whom Rebecca and I visited in Belarus several years ago! But in many countries of the world, whole populations will neither give nor receive Christmas presents.
Many Americans will also not give gifts this year—for lack of money, because they are anti-religious, or because they insist that it reflects a pagan custom.
But there is one gift—the best gift—that can’t be bought in a store or put under a tree. We need to share this true gift that God has given us, the gift of eternal life. In other words, we need to get back to the basics and explain to people that there is a gift that they can only receive “without money and without price.”
A few months ago, God gave me a unique opportunity to share this gift on a train in the Czech Republic when He put me opposite a thirty-something young woman. She told me she originated from Moravia, a territory near Prague. I told her about the Moravians, who centuries ago sent out over 200 missionaries to spread the Gospel. When she asked what the Gospel was, the door to her heart was wide open and 45 minutes later she prayed to receive Christ as Savior.
I quickly discovered God had prepared her for the good news. Just last year, she had nearly died in a horrible accident. She asked me, “Why did God let me live?” I answered, “Because God knew you weren’t ready to die—you had to come to know Christ as Savior before you died.” This will be the first Christmas she will enjoy with a better grasp of what the celebration is all about. What a blessed early Christmas gift!
Would you make a promise even as you read this? A promise that you will share the gift of Jesus Christ with at least one person during this Christmas season? Of course, I pray you will share it with many, but with at least one. If we do not share this gift with those who need it, we are hiding our light under a bushel and denying the Christ whose birthday we celebrate.
Often, we don’t share Christ because we don’t know how to get started. On pages 4 and 5, I’ll share some practical suggestions you can use to “wrap” this all-important gift this Christmas season!
Sharing the One Gift That Matters
Christmas is a natural time to share our faith in Christ…but sometimes our own fears and feelings stand in the way. Pastor Lutzer shares some easy-to-use tips to help you overcome those obstacles, and give the good news of Christmas to people around you who need to hear it.
Q: Christmas is a relatively easy time to share our faith. Why don’t more Christians take advantage of the openness to the Christian message during this special season?
A: I used to answer that question by saying that they didn’t know enough—they were intimidated, thinking they’d be asked questions they wouldn’t know how to answer. However, I don’t think that is the primary reason. The deeper reason is because many Christians are living a defeated Christian life: they are in the midst of a bad marriage, or perhaps they suffer from an addiction or whatever else might trouble their conscience. So, they think to themselves, “Who am I to share Christ with someone when I’m not proving His reality in my own life?” When we’ve lost our joy, we’ve lost our confidence in witnessing.
Q: You often give examples of witnessing on a plane or even in casual conversation in a store, etc. How do you connect with people so quickly in sharing the Gospel?
A: First, I’ve found that if we are open to sharing our faith, God often opens the door! I’ll ask a question or make a leading comment that the person I’m witnessing to will pick up on. I’m amazed at how often this transition happens naturally; a bridge to the Gospel is quickly built if we are open to God’s leading.
Second, I’ve found it helpful to share my faith by asking questions—trying to find out where others are on their own spiritual journey. We must invite discussion and listen carefully to what they are thinking about God, religion, and Jesus in particular.
Here are some questions I’ve often used to begin a spiritual conversation:
Of course there are other questions that would be helpful. But we never what to share Christ without first kindly learning where people are at on their spiritual radar. We simply have to return to the practice of Jesus in the Gospels, who dialogued with those around Him by asking questions.
Q: Any ideas for sharing Christ especially at Christmastime?
A: Most important, build a relationship of friendliness and trust with your friends, relatives, and co-workers. Hopefully, this is happening throughout the whole year. At Christmastime invite them over and give them a thoughtful gift that will point them to the true meaning of Christmas. You might want to ask them about their favorite Christmas memory, or what Christmas means to them, etc. Then just give your testimony as to what Christmas means to you. The Holy Spirit will be pleased to take your witness and sow seeds in their heart that might germinate at a later time.
Q: What do you say to the person who says, “I’ve worked in the same office for ten years and no one knows I’m a Christian…for me to begin a conversation about the Gospel now would make me very uncomfortable.”
A: Good question. And it is even more difficult if that Christian didn’t live like a Christian for those ten years! But here is the answer: that Christian should talk to a co-worker one on one and say, “You know, I’m sorry because I failed you…I am a Christian but I haven’t lived like one; I haven’t shared with you by my life and by my lips the one message that means most to me.” And then they can proceed to share their testimony.
The bottom line: This Christmas don’t let past failures stand in the way of present opportunities!
Jesus speaks to us, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:2).How Should a Christian Vote?
I believe the evangelical church has finally been forced to conclude we cannot depend upon politics to turn this country around, bring us back to biblical principles, or reverse the anti-Christian bigotry developing in the courts, the media, and the wider culture. Only the church, armed with the Gospel, is able to bring lasting change in the hearts and lives of people. God’s House—and not the White House—holds the key to the future of our nation.D.L. Moody: A Man For Our Times What would Moody say to us today as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church he founded?
When God said “Be holy for I am holy,” He was giving us a command that we may seek to grow and reflect His character. As members of the body of Christ, we’re called to live in sync with God’s will and purpose, and that includes a separation from sin.All Sermons by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer