I never knew how a scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi could describe my struggles and successes in evangelism. In this second installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Luke Skywalker has a much different persona than the childhood hero with whom many grew up. The Luke in this movie was jaded, bitter, and a broken man because he failed in raising his nephew, Ben Solo, in the ways of the Force.
As Luke sensed the dark side festering and growing in Ben, he cowardly tried to kill Ben in his sleep. However, as soon as he lit his lightsaber he felt shame and regret—underneath the dim light of his lightsaber he saw a scared Ben Solo. This cowardly move has devastating effects as Luke realizes he can’t be who he needs to be for those around him.
Many of us can relate to that feeling. In our own strength, we can’t be what Christ calls us to be. But in that same movie, Yoda tells Luke that weakness, folly, and most of all, failure, are often the greatest teachers. Yoda’s words are wise and we should keep them in mind as we bring the gospel to others.
Failure: The Greatest Teacher
For me, failure has been the greatest teacher in sharing the gospel. Much like Luke, I am a broken man. I have often been completely ruled by fear of man. From an early age, performance and people pleasing became a means to earn acceptance. Moments in my childhood and adolescence formed a pattern of self-protection. People pleasing allowed me to both exalt myself and promised me the false security of safety from being hurt by other people.
“Countless times when I have taken the first step towards sharing the gospel, the Spirit empowers me & I’m given a supernatural strength that’s not my own.”
But Paul says that if we are slaves to people pleasing we cannot be servants of Christ. (Galatians 1:10) Despite my past, in my weakness and brokenness, Christ is exalted in my life and God is empowering me to move forward with the gospel and be faithful despite how I may feel.
Nursing has been my career for the last five years. Living out the gospel in a secular business has been difficult. I have felt marginalized, I don’t often fit into the team environment, and I have been called judgmental, among other hurtful things. Yet in my weakness, God is enabling me to move forward with the gospel.
Obedience is Hard
Sharing the gospel with others starts with God’s missionary heart toward the lost. God doesn’t desire a single person to perish (2 Peter 3:9), but commands all to repent and follow Christ.
In Matthew 28, Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make more disciples, teaching them to obey all he has commanded. We are ambassadors of Christ and called to share the gospel with others. I have been privileged to share the gospel with different types of people: Muslims, Catholics, nominal Christians, and people with a secular/atheist worldview. I have found spreading the gospel in a secular corporate environment is much more difficult than to a Muslim who is very eager to talk about spiritual things.
Evangelism in the workplace is difficult for several reasons. We have a very real enemy and a sin nature that seeks to wage war against us and against the advancement of the kingdom. And if those weren’t enough, Jesus himself said that if we faithfully follow him we would be persecuted and hated. How are we going to share the gospel despite these barriers? Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV) To be obedient disciples, we must daily pick up our cross and walk in his footsteps. From my own experience, taking up our cross is and always will be a kind of death—you have to renounce your own reputation, leaving your false comfort zone of self-preservation.
“Paul discovered personally that his ability to share the gospel and be obedient to Christ did not come in his own strength, it came from Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Obedience is extremely difficult until you take the first step. That’s why Paul says when he is weak then he is strong. Countless times when I have crossed what feels like an impossible barrier and taken the first step towards sharing the gospel the Spirit empowers me and I’m given a supernatural strength that’s not my own.
Our Weakness is His Strength
If we are in Christ, we have died to sin and are free to be obedient despite how we may feel. We often feel and believe that we are incapable to obey what Christ commands us. Feelings of fear can be powerful. I used to think that if I was afraid of sharing the gospel, I couldn’t share at all. I believe that is one of Satan’s greatest tactics—to get us to fear and then to make us feel disqualified because we are having those great feelings of fear.
But take Paul as an example. Paul—the giant in the faith that we often portray as a rockstar missionary who had no flaws or fears—says he had not just a little fear, but great fear and trembling. (1 Corinthians 2:3) But he shared the gospel in spite of his fears and that obedience resulted in a new church being formed. Paul discovered personally that his ability to share the gospel and be obedient to Christ did not come in his own strength, it came from Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Notice it’s not either he’s courageous or scared, but it’s simultaneous—when he’s weak he is strong.
Taking the First Step of Faith
Here is a personal example from my own life. I was seeking to share the gospel with a doctor and others. Fears raced through my mind as I wondered how I would share with them, what they would think of me, and what consequences I might face for sharing the gospel at work. My heart was pounding, and I even felt choked up. But God’s promise in John 12—to honor anyone who serves him—helped drown the fear.
I made that first initial step of faith. When I did, I was empowered. I asked the doctor a question, shared a story about a miraculous healing, and told the doctor that Jesus’s ability to forgive sin is greater than his ability to heal. I have had a follow up conversation with this man since then. Please pray for his salvation.
I have frequently found that as soon as I take that first step of obedience, I receive supernatural power from heaven. Our strength comes from an outside source that is far superior than us. We must be rightly connected to the vine to receive power from above (John 15:5). When I am connected to Christ, I am transformed from someone who is ruled by fear of man and instead am able to serve others in love.
Grant Ohlmann is an artist, writer, nurse of nearly 6 years, husband and son of God. He is a member of Sojourn Church and a native of Louisville, Kentucky. He loves his wife, the Southend of Louisville, as well as internationals.