Walking With Others in the Journey of Faith3 min read

Earlier this year I preached a sermon in which we looked at St. Paul’s “missional mantra”: “I have become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). I said that this isn’t about changing who you are so much as it’s about meeting others where they are—and from there walking with them in the journey of faith toward the Savior.

The primary context for this gentle leading to the Lord is in relationships. In his book, Loved & Sent, pastor and author Jeff Cloeter writes, “Though an evangelist preaching to thousands has a role, exponential transmission of God’s love in Christ occurs through the multitude of God’s people living in relationships. It is critical to express our faith in real, natural, everyday relationships with those around us.”

We witness to our faith, becoming “all things to all people,” in real, natural, everyday relationships. How does one go about doing that? Cloeter suggests several ways in which we can walk alongside others in the journey of faith. Let me highlight five of them.

1. Build relationships

This is of course the sine qua non of witnessing through relationships: actually having some! Cloeter recommends investing in those who are already part of your networks. If you don’t have any folks in that circle in need of God’s grace, consider volunteering with a nonprofit, joining a book club, or participating in a community association.

2. Earn the right to be heard

It’s a cliche, perhaps, but there is still truth in the saying that “they won’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Pastor Cloeter admonishes, “Don’t talk until you’ve done a lot of listening.” Being “slow to speak and quick to listen” means that, when you do speak up, your words will carry that much more power.

3. Be okay with questions

Neighbors have questions about the Christian faith, and there is a temptation never to acknowledge when we don’t know an answer. So long as you know the Answer, our Lord Jesus, it’s okay to admit when you don’t have a ready response to each and every inquiry. “Instead of preaching the answer,” Cloeter writes, “wrestle through it with them. You don’t need to be defensive. God can defend himself.”  Wise words!

4. Tell your story

People want to know how your faith has impacted your own life. How have you seen God at work? What has your relationship with Him meant to your day-to-day existence? Cloeter quotes the poet and Christian T.S. Eliot: “The greatest proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief.” Share what you’re willing to stake your life on.

5. Tell the Story

“Your story is great,” says Cloeter, “but it leads to a greater story. It is the preface to the transcendent narrative that will apply to your friend.” Think about your touchstones for the Good News. I encourage the memorization of “gospel-nutshells” from the Bible, such as John 3:16 or Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Ultimately, it is this message that is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). Share what God staked His life on.

Comforted to comfort

Walking with others in the journey of faith doesn’t have to be complicated. The calling is expressed in miniature in this passage from 2 Corinthians:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (1:3–4).

It’s as simple as this. We’ve been comforted by God. Where we can, we seek to bring His comfort to our friends, family, and neighbors. And wonder of wonders, He does it!

Photo © Pearl/Lightstock

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About the Author

Rev. Ryan Tinetti serves as pastor at Trinity, Arcadia

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