ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — As believers, most of us know that our faith is not something to be kept to ourselves. Jesus commanded us to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
But we also know that – especially in the times in which we live – sharing Christ with others often takes planning and intentionality. This begins with preparing ourselves to live our lives each day in a way that creates opportunities to share the Gospel.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (CSB).
Being “ready” not only means we need to know the words we will say to communicate our faith, but it also means we must involve ourselves in the lives of non-believers and intentionally develop spiritual connection points that help build bridges to the Gospel.
By positioning ourselves in these ways, we will have a much better chance of creating opportunities to share our faith. None of this is intended to undercut the role of the Holy Spirit, of course. In fact, when we pray and prepare ourselves, the Spirit regularly opens more doors for us to build relationships and have Gospel conversations.
On a larger scale, this is what the Cooperative Program (CP) does for us as Southern Baptists as we seek to take the Gospel to a nation and world in need of a Savior.
In North America, the CP allows us to start new churches in places that are under-reached and underserved. These new churches are being planted with the primary purposes of reaching people for Christ. As they do that, they are also providing new Gospel-powered stability and strength for neighborhoods and communities at a time when turmoil and hopelessness is pervading so many communities.
Before those churches are even started, the CP allows us to assess and train church planters so they can be well-equipped for the mission field long before they launch their church. And the CP funds seminaries where many of these planters receive the theological education that provides a foundation to what they will do in their ministry.
The CP allows us to put our Send Relief Ministry Centers right amid communities where great physical need exists, so we help churches meet those needs while sharing Christ – the ultimate and only lasting hope.
In times of challenge, chaos and dissension, those who have intentionally built strong foundations will have opportunities to be leaders and influencers.
As we look to the future, Southern Baptists face two options. We can allow ourselves to be drawn into the fighting, divisiveness and ugliness that is devouring much of our culture and society right now. In other words, we can follow the way the world is going.
Or we can stand firm in our faith on the foundation Christ has given us. We can be intent on looking to Him and Him alone for our hope, our security and our future. We can be unwavering in our stand on Scripture while demonstrating the love and compassion Jesus has for every sinner He came to save.
If we follow the world, we will largely sacrifice the ability to hold up Christ as the only hope for salvation. But by standing firmly in Him, we can continue to be a light for the Gospel as the world around us grows dark. And that means we must continue to be intentional in ways that will give us opportunities to proclaim Jesus in a world that desperately needs His salvation.
Standing firm on our Gospel foundation will also cause us to continue our strong support for the Cooperative Program, which enables our churches to go higher and further together, and lets us be ever ready for Great Commission opportunities.