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My journey

By Josh Kennedy

Recently I have been shaken by some of my pastor’s thoughtful remarks at church. First, he talked about followers of Christ being servants. What does it mean to be serving God? To really serve Him?

It reminded me of a time when a friend of mine asked me how I was doing. I told him I was doing fine.

He asked, “Are you serving the Lord?”

I was somewhat taken aback, not accustomed to that sort of question. But I said yes.

He prodded, “I mean, are you really serving Him?”

I was at a loss for words. I just muttered, “I’m trying to …”

That happened several years ago, but I still think about it often. What constitutes “serving” God? Reading the Bible? Praying? Going to church? Surely not just that. Living a genuine life of integrity and showing generosity to everyone, and loving them the way that Christ loves them? That’s more like it.

But what about actually telling people about Jesus? In youth group they called it “witnessing.” When was the last time I did that? My pastor brought this up the next week. You and I, if we are believers in Christ, are called to do this. It is not a suggestion. It is a command. Yet so many of us are silent. Pastor Rich gave a list of some common reasons Christians do not share the gospel, and just about every one of them rang true with me:

1. We don’t think people are interested.
2. We don’t believe they’re lost.
3. We don’t want to be rejected.
4. We’re not living the good news ourselves.
5. We don’t know what to say.

I felt as though God spoke directly to me with this message. I definitely don’t think people are interested in hearing about God. My friends have lived for 20 to 30 years. I figure if they were interested in Jesus, I would have heard about it by now. But that’s the thing. None of us talk about it.

That brings up the second point: “We don’t believe they’re lost.” Why not? For me, it’s because I have no idea if half my friends are following Christ or not, because none of us ever talk about it. We talk about sports, weather, music, movies, food, girls. Anything but God.

If we are Christians, why is God a controversial topic of discussion? Why do we avoid it like a plague? It makes no sense. If we are truly following Christ and serving Him, we should be so excited that we can’t keep it to ourselves.

Are we afraid of being rejected? That is part of it for me. Back when I was a teenager, when I actually tried to talk to people about Christ, I was rejected a couple of times, so I just kind of gave up. Man, if I tried to talk to two people about God, and neither of them seemed interested, I guess nobody in the entire world would be interested.

On to number four: “We’re not living the good news ourselves.” If I am in a period in my life where I am struggling, I don’t feel comfortable telling other people how to live their lives.

And lastly, we don’t know what to say. How do you bring this topic up? Do you just, in the middle of watching a football game, wonder aloud, “So, what do you think about God?” Awkward, eh? We can’t be talking about serious matters. We’re just hanging out. Watching some ball. Eating some food. That is the entirety of our relationship. Nothing beneath the surface gets talked about.

The main thing that has discouraged me during the past few years has been seeing so many of my friends fall into various lifestyles that are clearly against God’s calling: drugs, alcohol, sexual sin (including pornography), anger, bitterness, gossip.

As I have seen one friend after another fall away from God (or at least continue to live in blatant, unrepentant sin while still claiming to follow the Lord) it has made me feel, at times, as though all hope is lost. Why should I tell people about Christ? Won’t they eventually turn away from Him anyway, like everybody else seems to have done already?

One friend told me his pattern of getting drunk every night was “just a phase” in his life. This is what people are supposed to do in their early 20s, he told me.

It doesn’t work that way. We cannot consciously live in a way that is displeasing to God and just say we’re going to fix it later. We can’t say, “I’ll stop (insert sin here) when I’m 27 years old.” What if that day doesn’t come? A 20-year-old friend of mine died in a car wreck in December. Another couple of friends have died from drug overdoses.

I hate the saying “Life is short.” Life is actually really, really long, for most people. But it’s not guaranteed to be that way. That’s why we need to live life fully here and now. I am preaching to myself as much as anybody. I have plenty of flaws that I need to deal with in my own life. We need to be servants of God, here and now. No more putting it off until a time that’s more convenient for us. That is the exact opposite of what Christianity is. Serving God does not mean living however we want to and eventually coming back to Him when we get lonely and miserable and sick of failing.

JOSH KENNEDY lives in Springfield, Mo.

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