The day after I found out about my brother’s addiction, my brother texted asking if I thought differently of him. Through our conversation, I encouraged him to talk to a mutual friend/pastor whose mother was an addict. When I asked my brother to speak to this friend/pastor, his response was, “Only if he won’t talk to me about God. I’m not ready for that.”
About 9 months later my brother was in jail. He called and I asked if he was ready to talk about God yet. He hesitated and said he was lonely and just wanted to talk to someone. I told him if he wanted to talk to me then we would talk about God because I knew he had nothing better to do. So, he could’ve either talked to me about God or talk to the murders about their weapon of choice.
So, he obliged.
That started a daily conversation about Christ, every thought he had, everything he wasn’t sure he agreed with, etc. He read the entire New Testament and would call and ask questions.
I asked him really hard questions. I spoke the truth to him and shared how I wanted to spend eternity with Jesus and him. I shared the gospel, answered countless questions, and guided him back to the truth.
When my brother started to open his heart, Jesus quickly started working. Our conversations focused on the future, his future. He was hopeful and encouraged. He wasn’t perfect and still struggled with his addiction, but he informed me that he accepted Christ back into his heart and life again.
Prior to my brother’s passing, I never thought about death. At that point, I had lost two grandmothers whom I was close with. It was hard, but it was done in order. When I experienced a death that was out of order it open my eyes to the reality of death and heaven and hell.
I wrestled for a while on where my brother’s soul would be for eternity. I had hopes that he would be in heaven and fears of him going to hell. I knew he accepted Christ into his heart, but yet he still subcommand to his drug addiction. I struggled knowing if he could still go to heaven even though his addiction/sin is what ended his life.
Through my grief, I was able to rectify my feelings towards it all with Christ. While Christ healed me, He continuously reminded me of all the times I spent talking to my brother and pointing him to the Word. He filled my mind with peace knowing my brother gave his life over to Jesus but before he could actually live out his salvation, he relapsed and overdosed.
During the time I wrestled mentally, emotionally, and spiritually on where my brother was, the one thing I didn’t wrestle with was; I never waited until it felt “right” or until my brother was “ready” to talk about Jesus. I never waited for that door to be open before walking through.
I grabbed that door by the handle but full of wisdom and discernment, and I opened it myself.
How often do you think about a loved one in your life who don’t know Jesus and pray for God to open the door for conversation? How many times have you shared that you “just haven’t felt led yet” to talk to that person about Christ?
I’ve heard others say it and I’ve repeated that same thought myself. There’s this idea that we won’t share the gospel with a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor until God opens the door and leads you to share.
Friend, that door has already been opened. Jesus Himself opened it by telling us numerous times throughout His life and ministry to “Go…”
If we’re honest here, I think you and I have said we’re waiting for God to lead that conversation as a way to avoid conflict, avoid being uncomfortable, and avoid rejection.
If I tried talking to my brother about Jesus and he kept shutting that door, I would have kept knocking. I would have kept knocking until he answered. Even if my brother decided to lock the door and lock me out of his life- I would have still tried. I would have sent him letters, I would have called him, whatever it took I was set to do it. Even if he got mad and tried cutting me out of his life- I would still do it.
Because I knew one day my brother was going to die and he was already walking that fine line. And I knew if he were to die- no matter the outcome- I would know that I tried until he had no more air left in his lungs.
If you and I know that we have the key to eternal life and know the truth about our Savior and this knowledge would save someone from hell, shouldn’t we be forcing ourselves to overcome the fear of looking dumb or causing a rift to save the souls of those we love and care about deeply?
We let our loved ones go years and years without knowing Jesus simply because we choose to never bring it up. We wait for them to do so, we wait for the conversation to naturally drift that way, or we wait for a big life moment to finally speak up.
Honestly, I think we’re doing it wrong.
Please hear my heart, I don’t think we should be standing on the side of the road with a sign saying “Jesus saves!” I don’t think we should be walking up to strangers in the grocery store asking them if they died do they know where they are going. I don’t think we should be talking about it nonstop to the point where we’re being annoying and beating someone over the head with it.
Because that would just freak people out and annoy the heck out of them.
We need to have tact and speak with discernment. We don’t want to to turn people off or turn people away. But, we tend to rely solely on our life “being an example.” Of course, our life must be an example to those who don’t know Jesus. It’s all throughout scripture stating we need to be a light, we must live a life full of the fruit of the spirit, and how we live our lives will be a powerful testimony.
However, Jesus wouldn’t tell us to “Go..” and use our words to spread the Good News and teach people how to live for Him if we only needed to “be a light.” The reality is, our words are what teaches others about Jesus and our life is what brings validity to our words. That’s what leads people to confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) and that is what saves them.
When Jesus said to “Go..,” the disciples went. They traveled to different cities and countries and they lived alongside those who were in those communities. They befriended, cared, served, and loved them. Through building a genuine relationship and gaining the people’s trust- they then shared with them who Jesus is.
When I was a little girl my parents owned a pizza shop. A lady would come in regularly and through time built a relationship with them. Eventually, she started to talk to my parents about Jesus and the Bible. They were stunned at what they heard, it was different than anything they were taught growing up. This led my parents to go to church with this lady and in turn taught me about Jesus as a child.
Then, as a teenager, my brother asked me to go to youth group with him. He reminded me of the things we were taught as a child and shared from his heart why he wanted me to go. I went and at fourteen I gave my life to Christ and never looked back.
If it wasn’t for a customer befriending my parents and stepping out of her comfort zone, my family may never have heard the truth about Jesus. If it wasn’t for my brother reminding me of what we were taught as children- I may have never come to know Jesus, or it may have been much later in life. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go back to my brother as an adult to remind him how he led me to the Lord and remind him of Jesus before his passing. I’m eternally grateful.
I simply want to encourage you today. I want you to pray about the friends and family members in your life who don’t know the Lord and know God goes before you and prepares the way. Then, talk to them about Jesus.
Share from your heart how you love them and you want them to know how much you do. Tell them how important Jesus is to you and how you want them to know Him too. Let them know they can ask questions and if you don’t know the answers you will ask someone who does.
Be gentle with your approach, be willing to open up and be transparent, be prepared to show emotions. Ask for it to be a continuous conversation because your loved one might not come around to the truth right away.
It’s ok if you cry while talking to them and it’s ok if you don’t. Have the freedom to laugh and joke around while you talk. After all, you’re trying to introduce them to or remind them of Jesus and He is full of joy.
If they say no to your invites to church, or try to shut down the conversation, or they’re just polite and let you talk without engaging; pray for them. Pray and continue to point them to Jesus through a gentle heart (I Peter 3:15).
Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This post originally appeared on HeatherMargiotta.com and was republished with permission.
Heather Margiotta is a Christian Writer and Speaker from northeast Ohio. She is a wife to a loving husband and a mother to two handsome sons. She received a bachelors degree in Theology and writes about her faith, adoption, relationships, and grief on her blog, HeatherMargiotta.com. Besides loving Jesus and her family, Heather is obsessed with coffee, local pizza joints, and nail polish. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.