I want to share a surprising observation with you: It is possible to share your faith and resist the Holy Spirit at the same time.
This should, initially, seem like a contradiction. After all, the Spirit empowers followers of Jesus to share the good news of Jesus with others. This is Evangelism 101.
Acts 1:8 says it pretty well:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.
There it is. The Spirit of God and being witnesses to others, neatly tied together.
Because they are meant to go together, problems arise when we try to separate them.
One of the ways I’ve realized I tend to separate them is by assuming that the Spirit is on the same faith-sharing-and-conversion schedule that I am. And I’ll be honest. It’s a tight schedule.
One conversation, in fact, would be plenty for me.
We say hello. I explain Jesus. You weep and repent. You turn around and do the same thing for another person before the tears have dried on your cheeks.
But life experience tells me that this is not how the Holy Spirit is working in our time and place. And I think there is good reason for it.
We live in a convenience culture. Fast food. Fast facts. Fast internet. Fast conversations. Yes, please.
But strangely enough, the Spirit does not seem to be as impressed with speed and efficiency as most of us are.
So what does it look like to try to work faster than the Spirit?
It looks like a battle of wits with someone who isn’t intellectually wired.
It’s an argument about spiritual things with someone you’ve barely met.
It’s scrambling to find the perfect words to bring home a conversation you think should end with the sinner’s prayer.
It’s attacking and demeaning someone’s views instead of compassionately listening to them and seeking to understand their perspective.
Perhaps more than anything else, it is sharing the gospel without laughter.
I truly think the presence or absence of laughter is a good way to gauge how well you are doing as you share the gospel. In natural friendships and conversations, we laugh all the time. If no one is laughing, it’s probably not a natural friendship. If no one is laughing, it’s probably not a conversation.
Its just you following your own Christian-sounding agenda. Not the Spirit’s.
My experience of faith-conversations tend to follow a pattern with two themes almost always present.
First, the theme of a snail’s pace. Spiritual progress feels slow to me. It feels awkward and clunky, with sudden, seemingly random jolts forward, broken up by long pauses—or even slight reversals.
Second, the theme of conversational risk-taking. While things do move slowly and awkwardly, I am not silent about my faith. When the opportunity presents itself, we do talk about Jesus, the Bible, church, or whatever else might be spiritually relevant at the time. But these conversations happen over time and on a foundation of friendship.
How do I know when I’ve gone too fast? When I start to feel like I’m trying win an argument instead loving a friend.
Or, more concretely, when the laughter stops.