I live in Las Vegas, so when I travel, people are often surprised that I call Las Vegas, home. They usually say, “I’m so sorry” or “Why?”
I had similar comments and questions when God led us here in 2014, but after eighteen months, I have seen God’s confirmation countless times.
God’s Grace Over Sin City
While living here in Las Vegas, I’ve had the opportunity to share inspirational speeches to hundreds of people. I’ve been able to teach faith-based classes to women rescued from sex trafficking and church women’s groups. God also opened media opportunities to share my faith in newspaper and podcast interviews and other online platforms.
Needless to say, there’re opportunities to share my beliefs in this city. I believe God wanted me to learn how to share my faith in relevant ways. I thought it was enough to invite people to church, but we are the church. Most Las Vegas entertainers and party seekers aren’t likely to enter a traditional church. We need to bring the message to them.
I thought I had to become bold to share my faith, but instead, God showed me I had to sharpen my listening skills.
What is Boldness?
Boldness isn’t becoming fearless. Boldness is more than confidence. I believe it’s owning God’s assurance. With that assurance, we can take perceived risks and become vulnerable for the sake of someone else.
What are the risks? If we look at Jesus’ life, we can see that He lost friends, respect, and even His life. Jesus certainly experienced loss, but there was much to gain–salvation for humanity.
Everyone’s loss will be different, but boldness is allowing God’s love to flow in us and through us. It’s counting the cost and realizing that the biggest risk isn’t voicing our faith, but avoiding our faith.
An Extreme World View
A recent study conducted by Barna Group revealed society’s perception of Christianity as extremist.
When we say we’re a Christian, it’s a term that’s become a melting pot of many religions, and may be perceived as an extremist. But when we are vulnerable and risk personal benefits for someone else, that my friend is love in action. Most people do not resist love.
In Acts 4:13, Peter and John earned the attention of others because they had been with Jesus. They loved Jesus, listened to Jesus, and spoke with boldness.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
Acts 4:13 King James Version
Become an Extreme Listener
Have you ever noticed that our hearing is extremely sensitive when we’re alone and trying to sleep? Throughout the day, however, we seldom hear the air conditioner, the hum of the computer, or an airplane flying overhead. We’re distracted. Here’s a perfect example.
When my husband is out of town, the house begins to speak through the plumbing, appliances, and leaky faucets—especially at night when I’m trying to sleep.
“Did you hear that, Charly?”
I sat up in bed and stared into the darkness.
My yellow lab didn’t share my concerns. He stretched and took more than his share of the bed. “Some watchdog you are,” I mumbled. Somehow, he knew it was just my overactive dishwasher.
When we share our faith, we have to become extreme listeners.
3 Tips for Extreme Listeners
1. Listen to the Person
Don’t focus on yourself or how you will be received. Extreme listeners engage in conversation with questions, “What makes you say that?” or “Have you always felt this way? Questions give you time to consider an appropriate response and builds trust.
2. Listen to God
During your conversation, mentally pray and ask God to guide you. He will help you discern the real need, the best timing, and what words to share. It’s like you’re having a three-way conversation that only you can hear. A brilliant response is usually God inspired, but I call it “God speaking in-between the lines.”
3. Don’t Listen to Fear
Don’t let fear whisper words of disqualification. These are the distractions that prevent us from becoming active listeners. If you focus on tangible results or lack of, you’ll get distracted. God is the one who changes hearts and provides the increase. We can’t be the Holy Spirit for people, but we can be a vessel of love.
What People Want is What They Need
So often I find that what people want is love. Isn’t that what we all want? It’s an even playing field; we just found a merciful coach who doesn’t yell, “Out!”
The Gospel message is a message of inclusion, not exclusion. We can share our bold and beautiful faith with assurance. Yes, it may make us feel vulnerable, but vulnerability is trusting God’s higher ways. Regardless how extreme the world may perceive us, we can exercise extreme listening and extreme love for God’s glory.
“Five Ways Christianity Is Increasingly Viewed as Extremist.” Barna. February 23, 2016. Accessed May 13, 2016. https://barna.org/research/faith-christianity/research-release/five-ways-christianity-increasingly-viewed-extremist#.VzYvYpErJN1.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.