Revd Canon J. John writes …

There’s a tempting conspiracy doing the rounds that Christians can very easily find themselves falling for. It’s a conspiracy of silence and centres on a single, stark warning: ‘Whatever you do, don’t talk to people about Jesus!’ That threat is quite enough for some Christians. But if there be any hesitation or doubt, those already deep in the conspiracy will offer reasons why you should be silent. ‘After all,’ they say quietly, ‘you will only irritate people and end up being embarrassed.’ Here they may look around to see if anybody else is listening, then lean towards you and, in a low whisper, say, ‘And remember political correctness: these days you might find yourself being hauled up before the police.’

Now at this point any Christian who knows their Bible might be tempted to reply, ‘Ah yes, but Jesus told us to share our faith.’ But here the conspirators give a sad and tired shake of their heads: ‘Indeed, but that was then and this is now.’ And then, just to completely hammer home the message, they add, ‘Of course, it’s just not worth trying to talk about Jesus anyway; they won’t listen. In fact, even trying to share your faith could be counter-productive. It could put them off Christianity altogether.’

This message can be so persuasive and daunting that many Christians find themselves nodding in agreement as they conclude that perhaps, after all, silence is the best policy. Others reflect on the advice to keep silent and after a while find new arguments to support it. Surely, if people want to hear the gospel they can come to church? And indeed, don’t we have professional evangelists, and people who have studied theology, and apologists? The result is that, somewhat reluctantly, many Christians in the West have decided that the safest thing is to opt out of witnessing. Well this ‘conspiracy of silence’ is a very ancient argument and from the whiff of sulphur that hangs over it I’m fairly certain where it came from. It’s a lie from the one who Jesus called ‘the Father of lies’ (John 8:44).

It is a biblical commission that it is the duty of all Christians to reject silence and to make every effort to talk to people about Jesus. For all the gloom pushed by those who believe the ‘conspiracy of silence’, witnessing spontaneously and openly for Christ can be effective today. The gain in sharing the gospel is infinitely greater than any pain we might risk.

This encouragement to share our faith in Jesus freely and openly with others is something that we all need to be regularly reminded of. The necessity for ‘ordinary people’ (of course, with Jesus there are no ordinary people) to communicate the good news has never been greater. Linked with this mysterious ‘conspiracy of silence’ is the bizarre idea that quite spontaneously, with no prompting, our non-Christian neighbours, friends, colleagues and family are going to wake up one Sunday morning and suddenly announce, ‘I know what I’ll do today. I will go to church!’ Such things may happen but from the fact that very few churches put up signs saying, ‘Sorry, Standing Room Only’ or ‘Please Queue Here’, they are pretty rare. God can convert people without anybody talking to them about Jesus, but he prefers to do it through other human beings.

If you need some advice on how to share your faith with others, please read my book Natural Evangelism, and as we approach this Advent/Christmas season consider purchasing and giving Making the Christmas Connection to your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – sowing this seed may open up further conversations. And give The Christmas Story to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and any other children you know – again it may help a child on their journey of faith.

In the cause of Christ’s Kingdom

Reverend Canon