I was on a college campus, speaking on the subject of personal and relational evangelism at a local campus ministry. After my talk was over, a student came up and asked if he could talk privately for a moment. We stepped outside and in the parking lot he said, “Jimmy, I’m a Christian but my suite mates don’t know that I’m a Christian. I’ve not lived in front of them like a Christian should live.” He went on to say, “I’ve been out drinking with them and to several parties. I’ve said things that a Christian shouldn’t be saying.” Then, with conviction in his voice, he asked, “How am I going to witness to them after I’ve lived like this?”
How indeed! What do you say to someone who now realizes his life can validate or nullify his words? In this young man’s case, totally nullify. Christendom doesn’t need another believer who says one thing but lives another. My first thought was to tell him not, under any circumstances, to tell his friends he is a Christian. But won’t solve the problem nor will it open a door to reaching his friends for Christ. Then came the second thought. Praise God for second thoughts.
If this man wanted to set his life right before God and to do what God had sent him onto that campus to do, share Christ not just get a degree, then he would need to make some changes.
First, he needed to personally make sure his relationship with Christ was what it should be. That would involve repentance, among other things. Second, he needed to tell some of his Christian friends and the director of the campus ministry about his situation, what he was going to do, and ask for prayer. Third, get his thoughts together on how he was going to handle the situation with his suite mates. He needed to first of all go to them, whether individually or as a group and ask for their forgiveness. I suggested he say to them, “Guys, you’ve known me for several months, and in those months I have not been living like I should. This has bothered me and I want to make it right. I am a Christian but I’ve not been living like one. I have been a hypocrite. I am sorry and I ask for your forgiveness. Will you forgive me?” Now these guys may not know what to say, but he have come clean with them. this may even be an opportunity for beginning a spiritual conversation. At the very least, these guys will be watching him very closely for awhile. This will be his opportunity to live in the forgiveness, grace and power of Christ.
When believers allow sin into their lives, it nullifies their ability to effectively share Christ. In fact, it will make a Christian not want to share. This kind of defeat will spread to other parts of their life as well. Prayer will suffer. Bible Study will suffer. Everything in their spiritual life will be brought down. The solution is to root out sin whenever and wherever it is found. Holiness is important in personal evangelism, but as you see, it is also important in the whole of your life. No sin is worth losing your peace with God and power for sharing Christ.