I remember being in university and feeling a burning conviction from the Holy Spirit to talk to a guy sitting next to me about the gospel. I sat next to him every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for our 1:30 pm -3 pm classes. We knew each other. We talked about football, campus life, and just general college student topics.
However, I can remember this one particular time that I felt the Holy Spirit pushing me to talk about Jesus. I felt like there was a massive stone on my chest, my throat began closing up, my heart began beating faster, and I began sweating. I could hardly control myself, but sadly I pushed that conviction of the Holy Spirit away. I did not share the gospel with my classmate. I walked out of class that day, and I shed a tear because I disobeyed the Lord. I let fear get the best of me, and I did not get another opportunity to share the gospel with him again.
Why Do We Fear Evangelizing?
That was one time that I blew it. There were times I got to share the gospel with people. Why was I struggling so much with preaching the gospel? Well, I was in fear, of course, but how do I overcome that fear? What was the basis of this fear? Many of us have lots of reasons why we fear sharing the gospel with people. Sometimes it could be difficult questions that could throw us away. It could be that we don’t want someone to get angry or feel offended. We also might feel that we don’t have adequate training or understanding of the gospel well enough. Lastly, I have heard people say that they are not good with words. Why do you not share the gospel with others?
We know that it is commanded in the scriptures to evangelize. A great scripture that commands us to preach the gospel is 1 Peter 3:15 which says “…always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” The word “hope” in 1 Peter 3:15 is another way of saying “faith.” The apostle Peter uses the word “hope” referring to the Christian faith in other portions of his letter to the churches at Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:3, 1 Peter 1:21). So Peter is saying that we’re always to be prepared to say why we have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It is a command ALWAYS to BE PREPARED to talk about the hope of the gospel.
What is interesting is the context is that Peter addresses the fear of sharing the hope of the gospel with others. He says in 1 Peter 3:13-14 that Christians are to do good to the point that they might suffer. One way to do good in this context is to share the hope of the gospel. He then says “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled (1 Peter 3:14). So Christians are not to fear while preaching the gospel.
Dawa ya uwoga ni uwoga
We are not a people of fear, but people of power (2 Timothy 1:7). However, the reality on the ground is that we do fear. Also, if you consider the church and the historical context of the book of 1 Peter they were living in a hostile environment where people who were Christians were being burned alive for their faith, losing income, and being beaten severely for their faith. How were they to not let fear get the best of them while preaching the gospel to their neighbours, friends, and even their persecutors? How are we to not let fear get the best of us?
Peter gives the churches in Asia Minor, with whom he was writing to a reason why they should not fear to preach the gospel. He says that “but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy… (1 Peter 3:15).” The best way to overcome fear is to fight it with fear. We say “Dawa ya moto ni moto,” however in this case “Dawa ya uwoga ni uwoga.” Peter says “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled (1 Peter 3:14).”
Peter doesn’t want the fear of persecution, questions, losing a friend, or fear of offence which are based in fear of men to overwhelm believers, but instead, they should fear Christ the Lord. To fear Christ, the Lord means to be so in love with him and delight in his so much that to disappoint him would devastate you (Isaiah 11:3, Isaiah 8:12-13). If you genuinely fear Christ who is an awesome Lord and you do that in your heart as Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 then nothing will overwhelm whenever it comes to evangelism. So do you fear Christ the Lord?
Honour Christ as Holy
If someone truly fears the Lord and honours him in their hearts, then it will be a powerful testimony in a world that does not want to hear the good news of Christ. Even if you are not good with words, answer questions poorly, lose a friend or two, or are severely persecuted you will still have a powerful testimony of Christ the Lord as holy in your heart. People remember genuine people and that someone somewhere will see our testimony of honouring christ as Lord as real, and the Holy Spirit will use it to convict a soul (John 16:8-9).
Another encouragement that Peter gives us to evangelize without fear is that we will be “blessed (1 Peter 3:14).” You will be blessed even if someone does evil against you. The Lord will not forget you. He will be closer to you than ever before whenever you suffer in any way for sharing the gospel. So do you want to be blessed? Then share the hope that you have in Christ.
Stop fearing what the potential consequences will be if you share the gospel. Instead of worrying about the negatives consider whether or not Christ the Lord is set apart as holy in your heart (1 Peter 3:15), and consider the blessings that you will receive from preaching the gospel.
Remember that the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12) and that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a God who will bring wrath on sinners who do not know him (John 3:36). There is so much for the person who does not know Christ to lose. Is Christ truly set apart as holy in your life? If so then the fear of preaching the gospel will have no room in your life, and you will not disobey the pressing conviction to share the gospel.