This summer, at a nearby amusement park, I rode thirteen rollercoasters in one evening.
The granddaddy of them all was Orion—a gigacoaster with a 300-foot drop and speeds over 90 mph. Jaw-dropping.
Or should I say, stomach-dropping? And, of course, I had to tell everyone, “You’ve GOT to ride Orion! It’s awesome!”
Why do we tell people about those kinds of experiences? It’s not like we’re bragging; anyone can go do it. On the other hand, not many of us would go to a co-worker or friend and excitedly say, “Wow! Have you seen this thing called a Thermos bottle? Amazing. You put something cold in it…it stays cold. You put something hot in it…it stays hot. How does it know?”
Why do we do that with some things? It’s because we’ve discovered something so out-of-the-ordinary—something so good, so energizing—that we want everyone else to share the experience with us. We hope they come back and say, “Wow! You were right! That ride was awesome!”
What’s more, it’s in the sharing of the experience that brings even more personal fulfillment. In his classic book Choice Theory, psychiatrist William Glasser writes: “…what fun is it to learn anything or achieve anything if we can’t share it with others. A friend of mine, a dedicated golfer, shot a hole-in-one playing by himself. (That’s a) disaster.”
When we experience something good—when we find something intensely satisfying—chances are we can’t help but tell others. When Jesus shows up by the Jordan River, a well-known radical preacher named John identifies Him as being The One…The Messiah they’ve been waiting for. This causes a stir…and some people start following Jesus. When Philip tells his skeptical friend Nathaniel that he’s found the Messiah, Nathaniel is resistant. Philip’s response?—“Come and see.” JOHN 1:46b
This is evangelism in action.
As the old adage goes: the best salesperson is a satisfied customer. But what is a “satisfied customer”? Presbyterian pastor Richard Halverson explained: “For the New Testament Christian, (witnessing) was not a sales pitch.
They simply shared, each in his own way, what they had received. Theirs was not a formally prepared, carefully worked-out presentation with a gimmick to manipulate conversation and a closer for an ‘on-the-spot’ decision . . . but the spontaneous, irrepressible, effervescent enthusiasm of those who had met the most fascinating person who ever lived. . . . Madison Avenue, with all its sophisticated know-how, can’t improve on this strategy. Nothing is more convincing than the simple, unembellished word of a satisfied customer.”
What’s the “Jesus-satisfaction-quotient” of the people you lead?
Perhaps we need to prompt our people to ask themselves some probing questions:
— Am I really satisfied that I’ve met the Real Messiah, the Real Jesus? — Am I really enjoying my relationship with Him? — And if not, what’s wrong with it?
In Psalm 81, the psalmist writes that God is begging His people to rightly relate to Him, to experience Him, to put away all their cultural gods and idols, and simply come to Him. And then God suddenly uses an amazing metaphor: “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” PSALM 81:10b
Most of us try to fill ourselves with anything and everything that we think will make us happy…will satisfy us.
The problem is: it’s really a spiritual craving that only God can fill. It is the job of leaders to help people “open their mouth” and know that God always has more to experience…to taste and see that God really is good.
And the fact is: if we’ve led our people into a depth of experience, sharing their faith won’t be one more thing they have to do.
Instead, it’s more like they can’t help but say something.