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Friday, December 4, 2015

F.I.R.E.: It's a Relationship (redux)

Relationships and the state of the world’s salvation should be the concern of every person, especially of every Christian.
Over the last twenty to thirty years, Americans and maybe people of other countries, too, have become so involved in succeeding that relationships and a Christian witness have taken a backseat in each person’s life. As you walk in public, if you look, you can see people closed down and in pain. They have no one with whom to share their burdens because relationships in society are minimal in our day and age. Many of these people have  no one, including God, with whom to share their burdens because no one took the time to share the Gospel with them.
Relationships have broken down.
Evangelism took a back seat in Christian lives.
This should disturb every one.
Life should be about relationship. God created every person for relationship – with Himself and with other people. Jesus called Christians to be in relationship. Consider Matthew 22:36-39,
‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the LORD your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it,  Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [NIV]
When did we Christians close our hearts and eyes to seeing other people?
I think this occurred because: 1) People have adopted a policy of tolerance for all beliefs and, therefore, do not want to "force" their beliefs on someone else; 2) People have become so involved in their lives and efforts at “succeeding” that they literally do not see people enough to have a real conversation with them; 3) People are afraid to tell of their Christian faith to others because they are afraid they will make a mistake or are afraid of being rejected by the person to whom they are talking.  Can I make a suggestion? You are not the one who may be rejected. Jesus Christ is the One who they would reject, if they rejected what you said. You would have been doing what Christ told His followers to do - go out and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).
Another thought, if you do not tell others because you are promoting tolerance, remember Jesus has been tolerant for thousands of years. He loves all his creation, men and women of every race and tongue. You may be the one He chose to tell this person near you about Him. Remember, God has a plan for everyone to hear about Jesus Christ and when that occurs, the end will come.
Would you like to be the reason someone did not hear about Jesus and the Father’s love? We Christians have a secure hope of living with God forever in heaven, but we must stand before God and receive His judgment for our actions, too. You need to take the opportunity God gives you to tell others about Him. You must see other people. Act upon the time God gives you to speak His love to them.
What I find is that the number one reason Christians give for not sharing about Jesus is they are afraid. I addressed the fear of rejection earlier. The people to whom you talk will not be rejecting you, but Jesus. The best way to get over this fear is to take a course on how to witness. Take two courses. Then, put it into action. The more times you make the time to share with others, the easier it will become. Most important of all is this: you must truly care about the person. When God saves a person through Jesus, His Son, He puts His love in you. This love is God's Spirit. He has put His love - His Spirit - inside you and you must call upon this love, His Spirit to love other people. You must put aside your human limitations and prejudices and allow God to love this person through you. Once you do that, he or she will realize you care. That person will want to listen to and trust you.
This is relational evangelism - God's love for others shining through you.
God wants a relationship with that person very much.
He already loves him or her.
How do you do relationship evangelism? First, it is easier to love someone, and listen to and speak with a person if you have known him or her for a while. If you do not know the person, you can use the F.I.R.E. method of evangelism to gain an interest in and learn about a person. Your listening to a person tell you about him or herself will make you see he or she is a person who needs love and friendship, too. That person will learn to trust you because of it. During the time you listen to a person, you will recognize he or she has needs, too. This will unlock your heart for others.
What is F.I.R.E.? The short answer is Family, Interests, Religious experience, and Evangelism. The application is easy. It requires you to be human and truly take an interest in another person. Besides this, it requires you not talk as much as you listen. Get to know the person. 
v  Ask about his or her Family. 
o   Does he or she have kids or grandkids? 
o   Who lives at home with him or her? 
o   Where is he or she from? 
o   Find out about him or her. 
v  Ask about the person's Interests. 
o   Does he or she like to read, play an instrument, play computer games, camp? 
Are you now finding out you have a common interest with them? 
v  Ask about his or her Religious background. 
o   Does he or she go to a church? 
o   Which faith system does he or she follow? 
o   What are his or her thoughts on what happens after this life is over? 
Once you have taken time to get to know the person, which may take fifteen minutes, a few days, or months, you will have a heart for the person. He or she will realize you can be trusted and that you care about him or her. By this time, you recognize at least one area of need the person expressed about his or her life.
At this point, you can tell the person about yourself - your Family, Interests, and Religious experiences.
The E of FIRE -
v  As you tell the person about your Religious experience, tell him or her how God met/meets your needs  and can meet his or her needs.
v  Share how Jesus came to give abundant life because He loves him or her.
v  Share how God and Jesus showed that love and how it changed your life.
v  Eventually you will come to a place where you can ask the person if he or she would like to know Jesus in this way -  experience a life in which Jesus:
·         gives meaning to the person’s life.
·         forgives the person of all his or her wrongdoings.
·         is the Savior of his or her life. 
·         is there to take lead of his or her life to be his or her Savior, Provider, Protector, and King. Jesus wants the person to follow Him the rest of his or her life. 
v  Tell the person how your life has changed since you gave your life to Jesus. 
v  Ask if he or she wants to make that commitment to Jesus, to follow Him as his or her Lord and King. 
v  Lead the person in a prayer of confession and acceptance of Jesus Christ as his or her Savior.
Make a commitment to the person to help him or her grow in knowing what this commitment to Christ means and how they can grow to be more Christ-like.
Try this. It is a relational way to speak to someone about God and Jesus Christ - their love and sacrifice.
Try it more than once. Seek to speak to a person each week with an intention of talking with him or her about Christ. 
Intentionally go to a public place with no need to shop or return for a schedule, then you will be more open to seeing people in need or to whom God is leading you to speak. 
Be intentional. Go out once a week with the sole agenda being to seek a person who needs to hear a word from God, a person who needs to know God and you care about and love him or her. 

It is a relationship thing. What is stopping you?