When I was twenty-four, I was transferred from Atlanta, Georgia to Miami, Florida for my job. And although the turquoise waters and hot Florida sun were inviting and sounded oh so glamorous, I was miserable. I’d been striving my whole life for approval and acceptance. I’d landed this great job, but what did it get me? I was living near the beach, but didn’t know a soul and had no one to go there with. Despite my “success,” I felt so empty inside. It was here that Jesus shook me, saved me, and changed me. He showed me that I didn’t need achievements or gold stars or a hip social life or a guy on speed dial—what I needed was him. And it changed everything. For the first time in my life, I felt truly seen and completely loved.
I know my story. It defines me. But am I equipped to tell other people about Jesus?
I didn’t go to seminary. I have things in my past that aren’t so pretty. And I don’t have a blue checkmark next to my Instagram account. If someone asks questions, will I have the right answers? Will I sound credible? What if I mess up? What if someone dismisses me or makes fun of me or gets argumentative? I don’t want to argue about theology, I just want to share how Jesus completely transformed my life; how he set me free. I want to let others know about the grace-filled abundant life Jesus offers. I want to do this, but some days I question: am I actually qualified to share the gospel?
Is this just me, or do you sometimes feel this way, too?
It’s okay. God says he can use us—you and me. The Bible is packed with men and women just like us who weren’t pastors or academics. They weren’t squeaky clean or highly esteemed in their cultures, but God used them to show others all about his character, his love, his power, his grace, his forgiveness, and his faithfulness. God used unexpected, under-qualified (by worldly standards) people to spread the good news about him, to change things, and to make a difference. And he can use us, too.
God doesn’t require degrees, impressive networks, platforms, or eloquent speaking. All it takes for us for us to share the gospel is:
- An invitation from Jesus (and P.S. he invites all of us to do this)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV (emphasis added).
- A trust that God will equip and be with us. I like The Living Bible translation of that verse above which says, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify…” (emphasis added).
In our heads, we make this complicated. We put too much pressure on ourselves. All we have to do is be obedient to Jesus’ invitation to tell people about him. God will do the rest. He says he’ll give us the power. Honestly, it’s that simple.
Let’s spend the next few days looking at some examples God put in the Bible to remind us that he can and will use people like us.
Read Judges 6:1-6, 11-16
The awful, cruel Midianites had ruled over God’s people for seven years and were stealing every last crumb of food. The Israelites were starving and hiding from the Midianites in dread.
Enter Gideon, who was doing just that: hiding. Looking over his shoulder fearful for his food and for his life. Gideon hoped no one saw him sneak into that pit. He was on edge with every step and breath, terrified about what would happen if he was discovered. Then he heard a voice and his heart stopped.
But the voice didn’t tell Gideon to stick up his hands or hand over the wheat. It was the voice of an angel saying, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
Wait, what? Who, me?
“Hero” is not the word Gideon would have used to describe himself. Frightened, sure. Desperate, definitely. But hero? Gideon was startled and stumbled on his words. But God cut to the chase, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”
Gideon still wasn’t convinced. He had zero street cred. He was the least important person in his marginalized socio-economic group. Who would listen to him? Not to mention, it was extremely dangerous.
God gave the frightened guy hiding in the wine press one statement. It’s the only sentence we need when we’re sharing the gospel (or doing anything else God asks us to do): “But I will be with you” Judges 6:16 ESV.
Gideon wasn’t qualified. He didn’t have a platform. But, he was equipped, because God was with him. Whether you feel qualified or not, God is with you, too. He equips you and he calls you his mighty warrior.
- Where in your life are you, like Gideon, questioning God’s plan, specifically his commission to share the gospel?
- Take some time to journal about the ways you feel unqualified, maybe having too small or insignificant of a voice or platform to share the gospel. Write them all out. God already knows, but he wants you to talk to him about them. Then write over your journaling in big, bold letters, “Mighty warrior, the Lord is with you!”
Read: Luke 8:1-2, John 20:11-18, Isaiah 1:18, and 1 Peter 2:9
Mary Magdalene had seven demons. We don’t know exactly what that means, but it wasn’t pretty. Then everything changed: Jesus drove those demons out of her. Once she was free of the demons, Mary Magdalene’s life, like the lives of any of us who have experienced the love and grace of Christ, was transformed.
But still, people would have known Mary Magdalene as “that crazy demon lady.””. Those kinds of labels don’t fade quickly.
We all have skeletons in our closets, some sin or sin pattern, or even an entire season of life that Jesus has freed us from. There are probably people at our school, job, or community who still see us as “that girl or guy.” The one who…fill in the blank. Our labels don’t fade quickly either.
The enemy knows this. He twists it and uses it to make us question if we’re qualified to share the gospel because it hurts Satan’s cause when word gets out how loving and forgiving Jesus is. But we don’t have to worry about the enemy. He’s a liar. And our God? He’s forgiven every single one of our sins and washed them clean (Isaiah 1:18). He loves us and he empowers us to share the gospel.
Mary Magdalene’s past was packed with demons. But Jesus chose her to be the person he first appeared to when he rose from the dead. Jesus entrusted Mary Magdalene with the message that he’d conquered death and sin. She was the first human to hear the gospel after the resurrection. And then Jesus asked her to be the first person to share it, “Go find my brothers, and tell them.” John 20:17 NLT
If Jesus chose Mary Magdalene, the woman with a shameful past, don’t you think he could choose you? That he could send you? Perhaps he’s telling you today, “Go tell them.”
- Is there anything in your past you feel disqualifies you from sharing the gospel? Thank Jesus for washing these past mistakes white as snow, for erasing them from your slate.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 NIV
- Write out 1 Peter 2:9. Ask Jesus to help you believe these words: the way he sees you, the things he says about you, how he describes you. Ask him to let them sink into your heart so you will be emboldened to tell others the good news of his salvation.
Read Acts 8:3, 9:1-22, Ephesians 3:7-12, 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, 2 Corinthians 12:9
The Apostle Paul traveled around the world sharing the good news that Jesus offers us a completely new, grace-filled life. Along his journeys Paul was shipwrecked, whipped, beaten, and stoned. The Roman government felt threatened because their citizens were following and worshiping this King Jesus Paul preached about, so they threw Paul in jail and eventually executed him. But Paul didn’t let any of those challenges or hardships stop him. He kept going. Even in prison, Paul wrote letters to the churches he started on his missionary journeys. These letters compose much of our New Testament today. Paul’s faith was insanely strong. Paul didn’t let shipwrecks or prison or even death get in the way of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
But he hadn’t always been that way. Paul had previously been known as Saul, a killer of Christians. Paul calls himself in Ephesians 3:8 MSG the “least qualified of any of the available Christians.” But, he goes on to say, “God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.”
Paul felt like the least qualified. He had every kind of roadblock imaginable stand in the way of him and his mission, but it didn’t stop him. We, like Paul, might not have a clear and easy path. We might question our own skillsets or talents. But we have the grace, goodness, and power of the Holy Spirit living within us. Therefore, we are equipped and fueled up for the journey. Let’s go!
- What are some roadblocks in the way of sharing the gospel today? What weaknesses do you think you have in this area? Maybe the people you’re hanging out with? Your education? Work environment or living situation? Schedule? Finances? Or anything else that seems to be blocking your way?
- Find 2 Corinthians 12:9 in your Bible and write it out in your journal. These are Paul’s words about where he finds the power to share the gospel with others, despite his weaknesses. (Hint: it’s the exact same place we do: Jesus.) Spend some time asking Jesus to strengthen and remind you that his grace is everything you need, that it will fill in your weak spots and do powerful things.
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. Jeremiah 1:5-9 NIV
Jesus invites us to tell the world about him. And if you’ve met Jesus, you also know this good news is something worth sharing. Another piece of good news is that in order for us to share the gospel we don’t have to come to the table with anything except a relationship with Christ. We, like the prophet Jeremiah, make excuses. We’re too this or not enough that. But Jesus looks at us and reminds us that he loves us, he’s with us, and he’ll give us the power to share the gospel well. He’ll put the perfect words in our mouths.
What are you waiting for?
Image Credit: Michael Marcagi
Bestselling author and speaker Laura L. Smith loves Jesus, her prince charming of a husband, their four kids, music, a good book, almond milk mochas, dark chocolate, and travel. Her latest book, How Sweet the Sound explores the power of hymns and how they point us back to Jesus. Visit her website at: www.laurasmithauthor.com