As a dad who coaches little kids on the baseball and soccer field, I hear parents say this a lot. “Nobody like a showoff!” We, as parents, teach this to our children because we want to develop a humility within them, right? Some people naturally have greater talents and skills than others; which we encourage, but no healthy parent wants his or her child to flaunt their ability over others not as naturally adept at the task at hand.
I have to wonder if this concept of “showing off” and being taught to display humility from a young age lead to a few mindsets that can keep us from sharing our stories and, more pointedly, sharing our faith in Jesus with others.
Could faith be a form of bragging?
Think about it for just a minute. We hear people say, “I don’t want to push my beliefs on others.” Yes, we’ve all certainly seen stories and faith shared in ways we hope no one would emulate, but is there a difference between pushing and simply sharing? Pushing could come across as if you are better than or have all the answers. We don’t want that. But just to share our experience of God? Is that pushing?
There is also the thought, “I don’t want people to think I’m better than them.” This is the goody-goody mindset. We don’t want to put in the goody-goody or Jesus freak category!
I remember visiting a family friend who had attended grad school with my father. I was probably around 8 or 9 years old at the time. As we arrived at their home, my father asked his friend about some of his neighbors who were milling around their yard across the street. “Jesus freaks,” was his response.
At that moment, I decided I never wanted that to be the answer when friends of a neighbor ask about me! And I can’t help but wonder what the response would have been had the Jesus freaks taken the time to actually develop a healthy, neighborly relationship with my dad’s friend and his family. Maybe his response would have been more like, “really nice people and good neighbors.”
Another mindset and way of thinking that keeps us from sharing our stories is that we (by we, I mean those of us who profess faith in Jesus as the Son of God and savior of the world) don’t have any joy or wonder or awe in our salvation. There is not a sense of amazement that God would save me from the life I lived previously apart from him… that He would allow me to experience the peace of heaven in the here and now.
All three of these mindsets can be addressed by a few sentences in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the gathered believers in Ephesus. Specifically, Paul writes, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch that??
First of all, for those of us who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, this big ol’ Bible but should leave us in awe and wonder! How could we not experience an immense joy at the great mystery of how while we were dead in our sin and transgressions, because God is rich in mercy, he raised us to life as a gift of grace… and by no means of our own merit?? This message, and the joy that accompanies it, should be enough to motivate us to share our story with those who have yet to receive this message.
Also though, if you catch the secondary purpose of why God has shown his great love to you and to me, you will see that God has sat you up to show you off! In the final part of this section, Paul even says that we are God’s workmanship. We are His masterpiece. What does an artist or craftsman do with his greatest work?? Does he or she hide it in a closet somewhere? Of course not! They put it up on a shelf for the whole world to see proclaiming, “Look at this beautiful creation I made!”
How often are we shimmying ourselves back off the shelf and into the closet by thinking we aren’t worthy of being shown off as His creation in Jesus??
It is not the piece of art that is showing off here. It is the artist who is showing off. God wants to show Himself off through you! So our faith and our story might be personal, but it is not, and cannot be, private.
Faith is not bragging. Sharing your faith is boasting in the Lord. “Look at what the Lord did.” Sharing your story is allowing God to be the show off… not you.
And sharing your story is not being a goody-goody. Sharing your story is the opportunity to tell others of the goodness of God and how you specifically have found that goodness.
Why does all of this matter?
Well, the mission of the Founder (i.e. Jesus Christ) is to make disciples and there is no way you will make disciples without sharing your faith. Just as prayer is vital in the process, so is sharing your own personal story of how Jesus has made you a new creation and has seated you in the heavenly realms currently, not in the distant future.
There is someone in your spheres of influence–a coworker who is struggling, a neighbor who is hurting… and you have an opportunity to be the person through whom Jesus can show off. And it might just change their circumstance.
So let Jesus show you off. He has sat you up for just this kind of opportunity… to show you off as his masterpiece, as his workmanship. Share your story. Share your faith. And watch what God does through you.