Some helpful thoughts here on talking about the message that is closest to our hearts.
We’ve all been there, the conversation is going fine—and then somehow, someway the conversation turns to Jesus.
While the conversation was on the last topic, you were fine, you were laughing, you were yourself, you were having fun, but suddenly when it turns to Jesus, you get weird. You get tongue-tied, cottonmouthed, you start breathing heavily, you get very serious, almost cold. Any hint of joy is gone from your demeanor and you begin to talk to them about the Greatest News Ever.
Do you see the contradiction? When talking about anything else, you’re fine. But when you talk about the gospel, your demeanor betrays your message.
Always Be Prepared
The Apostle Peter instructs the early Christians in their conversations with those outside the faith by saying “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you …” (1 Peter 3:15).
Do you see what he said there? In your hearts, regard the Christ the Lord as holy, always be prepared to make a defense—always. We always need to be ready to talk about the hope that is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You never know when the Holy Spirit is going to give you that moment. You need to be prepared. Usually that is precisely why you get weird: you’re not prepared.
Know the Gospel
Start by preaching the gospel to yourself. Read passages about the gospel. Listen to how your pastor talks about the gospel, and be ready. Even if you don’t have all the answers to people’s questions, you can say something like, “I’m not sure, I’ll have to look into that.” Don’t get weird, don’t get defensive, and don’t get frustrated.
If the gospel is true (and of course we believe it is) then we should have no insecurities talking about it, just like we would talk about anything else that is true. This 1 Peter passage tells us Christ is Lord. Some of this purely comes down to repititions. The more you talk about Jesus, the more comfortable you are going to be with these types of conversations. In the end, the one who has the power to draw people is God who is sovereign over your conversations and interactions with those who don’t believe the gospel—it’s not all up to you. Relax a little.
In Your Hearts Honor Jesus
The Apostle Peter begins this instruction by saying, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.” In your hearts, always lift up Christ, always submit the conversation to him, and trust him! Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you up. When you do it, “do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:15–16). After the conversation is over, trust Jesus for the effects of the conversation. Ultimately you are the messenger of the gospel, not the message itself. God is the one who ultimately evangelizes to them and changes hearts.