I find it interesting there’s a distinction between evangelical Christians and the – not. The fact the word exists implies there’s an option. I could point to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20); pretty straight-forward. But I think there’s a strong philosophical argument to be made. People tend to talk about the things that make an impact on their life: new relationships, diet and exercise, the latest Netflix series, etc. If I naturally share the things I’m excited about, why would I only squelch my desire to talk about the difference Jesus has made in my life? You may be more like me where the question I have more often than not isn’t IF as much as WHEN.
Due to my experiences with Christ, I can easily speak to the things He’s kept me from. That would be enough in itself. But then there’s all He’s opened up to me as a result. I find myself sometimes “chomping at the bit” to speak into situations almost every day. Without really even comprehending the spiritual aspect, I often pray, “Just give me the right time.” Paul and Timothy encountered a similar situation in their travels:
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul[c] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-9 ESV
This experience and some of my own point to the fact that the soil may not be ready for seed. We have to be like the tailback watching for the opening in the line; ready to seize the moment when the opportunity presents itself. If it’s not there, we may just end up running into the backside of a giant linemen. I also always remind myself to make sure I’m entering into conversation out of concern and compassion rather than the impulse to win an argument. The following passage explains what it looks like when the time is right:
13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” Acts 16:13-15 ESV
It’s always a bit of a shock to me when I’ve had friends/colleagues come to me with questions or ask for prayer even as a non-believer. I can’t say I’m intentionally doing anything to attract that kind of attention. However, there’s a HUGE difference between that situation and one where I’m thrusting myself into debate. It’s consistently more fruitful. The key is knowing when the Holy Spirit is opening that door of each of us individually. It’s not a formula. It’s definitely something each one of us has to find for ourselves. Personally, I’ve never received a greater reward.