“I was nice to someone in the parking lot and they asked if I was a Christian.” or “I said ‘hello’ to a stranger and we had deep conversation that eventually resulted in a discussion of faith. I think I really made a difference.”
I’ve heard many of these testimonies. A simple “hello” or letting someone have a shopping buggy seems to lead to deep matters of faith, and ultimately, someone ends up planting a seed for Christ. That’s nice. If you’re not me.
I think I’m more intimidated by people than “afraid.” Even the word “afraid” probably isn’t appropriate, but it gets the job done. When the topic isn’t centered around something I know quite a bit about or that is within my comfort level (read: books, academic matters, uh, more books), a conversation becomes very nerve-wracking for me. I get nervous, I can’t articulate what I want to say, and most times, I get the doomed “awkward silence” that lasts 5 seconds or longer. I’ve always been this way. If I see someone walking towards me on campus or church that I’ve known a while, I’ll sometimes look away and then feel guilty afterwards. I could just say “Hi,” but then I overcomplicate things by scripting elaborate conversations, and by the time our paths cross, I’ve probably come off as very rude to a friend/acquaintance. Life’s complicated for introverts.
So, when Jesus said “Go into the world and preach the gospel,” where do people like me fall? I know what and why I believe in the Gospel, but as you’ve probably figured it out, I’m not the best at conveying meaning via conversation. I know people who participate in door-to-door evangelism and are always willing to hold conversations of faith, but I couldn’t imagine holding a conversation with a stranger on the fly. It scares me. Once again, where do people that are like me fall into the Christ’s Great Commission?
I think it all goes back to an analogy and Paul’s letter to the Romans.
4. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5. so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us… (Romans 12: 4-6).
Growing up in what many would call a Christian home, I was familiarized with verses like these that emphasized that each believer had a gift and duty within the body of Christ. I just assumed that everyone was a mouth. If you didn’t talk about God all the time or preach or turn every conversation into a theological matter, then you weren’t doing an adequate job for Jesus. Honestly, I don’t know where I came to this conclusion. I wasn’t taught that all believers possessed the ability to verbally witness, it was a belief that I made on my own.
Thank God for spiritual mentors.
At one point, I became so distressed that I was lame Christian that I confessed that I felt uncomfortable talking about my faith. I remember saying that “I’m just not good at it.” That’s when the very understanding individual from my church used her medical knowledge to explain my plight.
“Sarah, what good is a foot without a big toe?”
“There wouldn’t be any balance?”
This person then proceeded to explain that without a big toe, a person can’t balance. She then illustrated how the Church is the body of Christ on earth, meant to do His will.
“If we were all mouths, then there would be a whole lot of talking and not a lot of doing. Maybe you’re God’s big toe. You may not be able to talk like others, but you are good at keeping balance and showing Christ through your actions.”
Since that time, I’ve been working at being a better “big toe” within the body of Christ. I may not be the best verbal defender of my faith, but I know what I believe and why it’s important. Therefore, it helps me work as a “big toe.” I may not be able to hold a very deep, thought-provoking conversation about faith matters with non believers, but I can open a door, serve soup, and try not to look away when someone walks towards me.
Introverted? Yes. Can Jesus work with that? Most definitely.