“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Oswald Chambers says, “These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself.”
Yesterday morning in worship I told the story of my personal faith journey. Certainly, there are many details left unsaid, but the point of the story remains the same – God is forever in pursuit of us and we simply need to surrender to God’s love and care. Each person’s personal surrender is a different story. Each person has a different experience of faith in their lives. No one can truly share in your personal experience and no one can make it easier for you by doing the work for you. Putting your faith in Christ is something you must do for yourself and it carries with it the image that Paul gave the Galatians: being “crucified with Christ.” Paul doesn’t make it sound easy or fun.
There are several reasons why I think it is important for me to share my story. First, because it is a personal story that only I can share. It’s not that my story is spectacular or particularly inspiring; it simply demonstrates that God can take a very ordinary, sinful human being and put him to work. I do not see myself as being very much different from most of the people who sit in the pews of the churches where I serve. I grew up in a middle class home with good parents who took me to church most of the time. I was an average kid who got into plenty of trouble and had ordinary ambitions to grow up and earn a decent living. I’m not a genius or a prodigy; I am simply an average guy from an average family who led and average life in middle America.
That brings up the next reason for sharing. It is important that we all understand that God is seeking the average and ordinary among us to do God’s work for the kingdom. When we look at the great “heroes” of the Bible we discover that they really were pretty ordinary folks who had “greatness” thrust upon them by God. When we look at the lives of people throughout history who have done incredible things in the name of Jesus we find that most of them were average people who surrendered their will to God’s plan. In fact, I believe that those who seek to be great in man’s eyes do not become God’s heroes; rather, those who seek the love of God accomplish God’s will and become heroes in the only eyes that matter – God’s. Think of Moses, Noah, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa, for example.
Another reason for me to share my story is to impress upon you how important it is for you to think about, develop, and share your own personal stories. You should be able to share your faith journey in 3-5 minutes. This means you must really think about your journey and work on distilling it into the most important information and images. You need to practice sharing your story so that it is brief, informative, and persuasive. People will ask you why you go to church, why you believe in God, why you are a Christian…Your personal story is the best way to answer these questions and get the conversation started. It is important that others hear what it means to you personally to be a follower of Jesus and the best way to tell them is through your personal story. It should not sound “rehearsed,” but it must be prepared so that you don’t stray from the important message of who Jesus is in your life. Use Paul’s letter to the Galatians as a guide…“The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”