I have loved being part of our Belong course on Tuesday evenings throughout November. Initially, I was really excited going into this course looking at what it means to be a diverse church. What I wasn’t expecting was to be so impacted by the personal stories and how these really show God impacting lives. I have also loved hearing different stories on our Sunday mornings recently; I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who had a few tears hearing from Shaun and Laura in recent weeks on our Zoom Sundays! Many people who complete our Alpha courses talk about the most impactful part of the course being the stories, hearing about the difference that God has made in people’s lives. There is something really interesting about hearing people’s stories!
The thing about stories is that we all have them - we all have experiences from our lives to share. We can all recall important moments of our lives, things that have made us laugh, challenges that we have faced, and moments that have inspired us. If we have put our trust in Jesus and become a Christian though, we have an even more important and impactful story to tell. Sometimes we can be put off sharing our story, it can feel like a real challenge. I will often talk to people who say things like, ‘I don’t have a story, my life isn’t interesting.’ or ‘I’ve always come to church so I have nothing interesting to say.’
Whilst I understand that perspective, hearing inspiring stories of God working miracles in people who seem completely unlikely can leave you feeling a little bit inadequate. What I would say is that every story that involves a life transformed by Jesus, is worth telling! If you are confident that you have had an encounter with Jesus then that in itself is something inspiring - never be afraid to share your story!
I remember when I first became a Christian I was desperate to tell as many people as possible my story. I wanted everyone to know the transformation that had taken place in my life. The reason was that I had gone from being one of the most shy and unconfident people you would ever meet, to having boldness and a passion to speak in front of others. I wanted everyone to know that it was 100% the result of Jesus changing my life and nothing to do with anything I had done!
The best thing about our personal story is that no one can argue with it - it’s true because it happened to you! In my experience, most people are extremely positive when I share my story, they like to hear about the changes God has made in my life. Never once has someone challenged me on it or argued that becoming a Christian has been a bad thing for me. There has always been a genuine sense of interest.
The Bible is, of course, full of stories of people’s lives being changed. In one particular story in the New Testament,1we see the example of Saul’s transformation. He starts as a zealous and committed Jew who is on a mission to stamp out the newly formed Christian faith. He was literally on his way to hunt out more members of the early church to throw into jail when he was confronted powerfully by Jesus. The result of that encounter was turning his whole life around completely! He ended up writing most of the New Testament and traveled around different churches supporting them. This truly was a remarkable transformation…and how did it start? Encountering Jesus!
What about the story of Zacchaeus,2 the tax collector, who is despised by everyone because he ripped people off. He was in partnership with the Romans so was seen as a traitor by the Jewish people. Jesus sees him and ends up inviting himself round for a meal (that wouldn’t happen in British culture!) where something transformational happens to Zacchaeus. He decides to give half of his possessions to the poor and also repay back four times anything he has ever cheated anyone out of. Something about this encounter with Jesus changed him and led to his life never being the same. In 1 Peter 3:15 we see it written:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have’.
My challenge to you is how prepared are you to share your story? If someone knocked on your door today (standing 2 meters away!!) and asked you to share the reason that you follow Jesus, could you confidently share your story of what he has done in your life? It is a challenge, but as Christians, we should always be prepared. And do you know that sharing your story is easy - it isn’t something to be afraid of or feel worried to do. You can break it down into three really simple steps.
Structuring your story like that helps you to think clearly about what to say. Why not try and spend a few minutes writing your story down? You might be encouraged and reminded about how different things are now that you know Jesus. You may want to email it in - I would love to hear some!
Remember that we all have a story to tell, and we should never be put off telling it… it’s as easy as 1,2,3.
- Acts 9:1-9
- Luke 19:1-10
Watching my children sing and dance along to their favourite worship song taught me a couple of lessons about joy and faith. Jesus also had a lot of say about having childlike fath when teaching his disciples in Luke 18.
This will be the first Easter in three years that we’re able in Jubilee to gather together to celebrate, and the Easter message is still as powerful as it was 2,000 years ago!
Starting on Tuesday 15th March we are committing a whole month to prayer. Prayer has always been the bedrock of a Christian life with God. Prayer is what unites us to God in the here and now. Through prayer we experience the friendship and lordship of God through His Word and Spirit. In prayer we come to all three persons of our One Majestic God.