Written by Jake Gamble / October 2016
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
The passage you just read (go back if you skipped over it) tells us exactly why we strive to live by Christ’s example in our world today. While we do not always do this perfectly, at the very least we know what is expected of us. I have always been extremely curious to know how everyone who does not know Christ reconciles their actions in their own hearts. They must, at some point, ask themselves questions like: What standards should I live by? Who am I ultimately responsible to? How do I find truth?
Of all the places in the secular world to look, I found some really good answers to these questions for the unbeliever in a self-help book. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey was assigned to me as “something to scan thoroughly for good tips and ideas” (even though the author would be livid if he ever heard that). “Great,” I thought to myself, “more garbage about ‘the power of you’ and ‘brown-nosing 101.’” I have read this type of book before, and never found anything that was truly helpful for leadership, personal relationships, or achieving life goals. I was very surprised about 30 pages in when I realized that the author was writing this book from a conservative Christian’s background while targeting a general audience.
The main argument of this book was that in order for a person to be “highly effective,” they first had to build a solid character. There were no tricks about how to flatter your boss, surprise your spouse, or build up your confidence. Instead, the author describes how incorporating real (Christian) values into your life will help you succeed at whatever you do. Without ever mentioning the name of God, referencing a Bible passage, or talking about sin, Covey shows readers a truth that they already know in their hearts and they tells them to act on it.
This may not be an effective strategy for witnessing all by itself, but it makes for an interesting starting point. The politically correct generation seems to either shy away from or openly oppose religion most of the time. Approaching your peers with something that does not have a stigma or label may be better for them than Bible thumping. Paul told us in 1st Corinthians 9 that he made himself a slave to everyone as a missionary. Different cultures and viewpoints were not things that made people unreachable for his ministry, but avenues he used to expand it. Following this example is always something to strive for in our personal mission efforts.
Using this as a starting point can be helpful because as Paul says (Romans 1) all people have a natural knowledge of God’s law. They just don’t know how to properly use it. As Christians we can find common ground with this idea of building solid character and use it to show how where we fail, Jesus was perfect in our place.
P.S. You should definitely contact me if you want to talk about more about the book, learn what the 7 habits were, or swap ideas about Witnessing to young people in general!