November 30, 2016

How God Used Facebook to Give Me a Second Chance

by Jordan Standridge

Not too long ago I talked about the verses in Scripture that God used to get me to start sharing the Gospel. I was reading through the entire Bible at a Bible school in central Italy and I ran across a passage that changed my life. Ezekiel 3:17-21 proved to be some of the toughest and most convicting verses in all of Scripture for me. As I read those verses over and over again I thought of the people over the years who I had had the opportunity but failed to share the Gospel with.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I wept as I thought about how unfaithful I had been for so many years and for some reason my mind kept going to my junior high friends in Italy. I had been unfaithful to share the Gospel in general and yet it was those friends that kept coming to mind the most.

Junior high in Italy works a little differently than America. For three years from 6th-8th grade you stay in the same classroom, and it is the teachers who move from room to room. So for three years, each day you spend time with the same 20-25 students. Over our three years we became like a family. And I could only think of two people in the entire class that I had shared the Gospel with.

So the night I read those verses I began praying for them, that the Lord would right my wrong and send someone to do what I was unfaithful to do. After the Bible school I even went to look for them but was unable to find them.

Afterwards, I went to college and continued to pray that the Lord would send someone to share the Gospel with them. Then came Facebook. I never thought in a million years that there would be a system created to find old friends.  America caught on fast and soon I was friends with people all over the country.

friendpendingAnd all of a sudden I got a friend request. It was one of my junior high classmates I thought I’d never see again. They joined the Italian version of Facebook and typed in my name, found me and added me as a friend. I was shocked. Then I got another friend request and then another. Soon enough my entire junior high class had added me as a friend on Facebook.

Later on in college I was visiting Italy to help at a conference and found out that my junior high class had organized a reunion without knowing that I’d be there the same week.  Two of my classmates picked me up from my hotel and drove us up to my old junior high school. We walked up to the school and there was my entire class in the flesh before my eyes.

I had prayed that the Lord would send someone to right my wrong for a couple years, little did I know that he would send me to do so! That night I got to share the Gospel with them one by one.

The Lord was very kind to forgive me for my unfaithfulness in evangelism and then choose to use me to be the one to right my wrong. He is an incredibly patient and loving God.

Perhaps you’ve had relationships like me with unbelievers and have yet to share the Gospel with them. Let me encourage you to trust the Lord and share the Gospel with them. Ask them for forgiveness for not sharing the Gospel with them earlier and be faithful to share the good news with them.

Too many people are afraid to ruin their relationship with their unbelieving friend, but forget that nothing will ruin their relationship more than when that friend goes to Hell for eternity. Of course we must always remember that salvation depends on the Holy Spirit but the fact of the matter is that keeping a relationship on earth is pointless if you are going to spend eternity apart.

We only have a little more time left on earth, let’s strive to be the ones talked about in Romans 10:15; the ones with beautiful feet. And though the world may hate us (Matt 10:22), and we may lose many friendships, Jesus will welcome us one day with open arms ready to call us good and faithful servants (Matt 25:21).

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
  • I would say that we should share the gospel freely, liberally, as often as the situation presents itself. But the situation is very often not the right situation for a myriad of reasons. I love the passion for evangelism. What I am concerned about is any approach that might lead people to believe that they are actually sinning and displeasing the LORD unless they are, at every single turn, sharing the gospel. Such an approach tends to be burdensome, even bordering on legalistic. As much as people need to be inspired to share the gospel, they need to be instructed on when it is appropriate and when it is not. For instance, I work in HR for a very large firm in the southeast. I do not go to work and share the gospel with people. That is not what my master has employed me to do. And honoring the work structure of my earthly master is to honor my true Master and Lord.

    On the one hand, yes, Christians evangelize and share the gospel far, far too infrequently. On the other hand, there is no command that says I must share the gospel with every single person I meet or even every single person I know. To read that into the text is to read more into it than is there. I would suggest we not tie “not sharing the gospel with this or that person” to actual disobedience and sin. The paranoia that follows for Christians is not mentally or spiritually healthy in my humble opinion. That is my perspective. Again, love the passion, and your central point that we must increase our evangelistic efforts are spot on. I just think you may be pushing it a little beyond the boundaries.

    • Karl Heitman

      Great point. Not only can it create an overactive conscience, but for those whose zeal and personality drive them to “share” the Gospel every time they have a captive audience tend to cultivate some sort of pharisaical self-righteousness. One pastor actually had the gall to tell me that preachers who don’t do open-air preaching are not doing “frontline ministry.” I about dropped the phone!!

      • Agree. For some reason, there is a real bend in that direction that seems to come from that quarter far too often I think. I am afraid that very often we confuse how we are wired with something that is innately spiritual when that is simply not the case. I applaud evangelism. But I am concerned about people who seem to imply that everyone is an equally gifted evangelist and that we should all be out there knocking it out 24-7. (not saying that this post even comes close to that) They are not and this should be acknowledged and appreciated. Every Christian should be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in them, but not every Christian posses the gift of evangelist. If you were to listen to some guys, you would think that the text reads, and he gave ALL to be evangelists.

        We are on the same page!

        • Lynn B.

          Ed & Karl: Not to discount or argue with anything you have said… but I have come to believe my biggest problem with evangelism is not being in love with Jesus. When I have witnessed out of duty it has usually been dry, awkward, and ineffective no matter the environment. But I have known a few who so loved our Savior that they were like a teenager first bitten by the love bug who can talk of nothing other than their beloved. One might think them a little nuts as they ramble on but they are not offended no matter the environment. When we love Jesus in that way, we can speak of Him as comfortably as we might share with coworkers about our children’s ballgame or a family vacation. Witnessing is not necessarily outlining the gospel and can be as simple as sharing spontaneously what/whom you love and why.

          • I think we run into trouble when we begin to impugn things like duty, as if somehow emotions and feelings are superior or more sincere. Some people are wired differently than others. We cannot see into people’s hearts. To say this is a better style (emotions) than that style (sense of duty) is not something I would condone.

            In our own style, with our own personalities, evangelism should be a natural part of the believer’s life. It should be part of our routine, occurring so often that it never seems a foreign thing to us to speak of the glorious wonders of the cross in an attempt to persuade our neighbors the truth that is Christ.

          • Lynn B.

            Ed: I am not equating sense of duty with style. Nor am I equating being in love with emotion only. Respectfully, how would your wife feel about anniversary flowers sent only out of a sense of duty or even motivated by emotional sentimentality absent mature love?

            I am not discounting the need to serve your employer or that some witness legalistically and even rob their employers in the name of honoring Christ. But I have to ask if you ever speak of your wife and children in the workplace and why is that different from speaking of your Savior?

            As an aside, there is also the possibility of sharing the gospel at lunch or inviting coworkers to your home in order to build personal relationships to that end.

          • It seems to me that you may be confusing romantic love with biblical love. It used to be that doing things ought of a sense of duty actually was a loving act. I think it still is. doing something from a sense of duty is not ipso facto doing something from regret. There is a modern tendency among some evangelicals to create a romantic type of relationship between them and God. That is an alarming and dangerous trend.

            To equate speaking of my wife and children in the workplace with speaking of God in the workplace is a very poor analogy. And to place demands on Christians to evangelize in the workplace is out of bounds and legalistic. Wisdom must be used in such circumstances. And, I have no commandment from God instructing me to evangelize my company’s workforce, and hence creating mass tension and offense in the process. Evangelism in the work place has to be something that each person evaluates in their own particular situation.

            That being said, I have had occasion to share Christ at work, but has been very rare.

            The problem I have with this sort of thing is that we throw it out there, lead people to believe they are not obeying God or are somehow not loving Jesus like others, and then leave them on their own to potentially either get themselves fired or to walk around feeling guilty because they are not keeping someone else’s rules. Evangelism specifics are best taught by the local church where the elders can provide clear guidance and instructions on a case by case scenario. It is not a subject that I am uninformed or ignorant about. Not only am I qualified to talk about these matters from on a spiritual perspective, I work in Human Resources for a fortune 100 company.

          • Karl Heitman

            I see what you’re saying, Lynn. It’s obviously not bad to talk about Jesus all the time, if you have the freedom to do so. But you just have to be mindful that just because someone may freely speak of their love for Jesus to anyone with a heartbeat doesn’t necessarily mean their spiritually healthy and growing. It ESPECIALLY must not be used as a barometer for others’ commitment to witnessing/evangelism.

            Another thought: if unbelievers happily tolerate a Christian’s incessant declaration of the love a Christ, I seriously doubt there’s actually real evangelism going on. The full Gospel message involves more than just “being in love with Jesus.” In other words, constantly talking about Jesus isn’t evangelism, so perhaps we’re discussing apples and oranges here.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            To be fair, I believe you and Ed have misunderstood the point Lynn was trying to make in that evangelism oftentimes fails because our witness doesn’t reflect the love we ourselves have for Christ. It is the difference between being able to speak comfortably and humbly about the One we know vs. offering a well polished, yet sterile gospel presentation. I would hardly consider that emotionalism, but rather an effective means to open the door to share the gospel authentically. I believe that was her point.

          • Lynn B.

            Ed & Karl: Your defensiveness would amaze me except I
            have been there done that… I was reading this morning…

            A Minister’s Regrets

            ” I am sorry that my love for Jesus Christ is cool and shallow. ‘Weak is the effort of my heart and cold my warmest thought.’ It was true for Newton and it is true for us today. Sometimes I think, ‘Do I love him at all?’ …It is my chief complaint, that my love is weak and faint. I who encourage others to love him am amazed that I can love him so little, but what is more amazing is the fact that I love him at all.”

            More here: https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2011/a-ministers-regrets/

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  • I have prayed for years for salvation for my relatives. When we were together I shared my faith with them but it seemed hopeless. None turned to Jesus. So I began praying for my high school and college classmates. I was a lost classmate for years so never heard of any of the reunions until one classmate happened to find my parents address at her mother’s house because her mother and my parents exchanged Christmas cards. So I finally got to go to a reunion and I found out that since high school 3 classmates had become Christians. I write blogs about my faith and send them to my classmates in hopes that the rest of them will come to know Jesus. And I still pray for them.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks for the comment Stowell. It’s awesome to see you reach out to them!

      • Truth Unites… and Divides

        Jordan,

        I thought your post was terrific! God could and even did use Facebook! How cool is that?

        Also, with regards to Ed Dingess’s comments above, I did not think you were coming across as being legalistic, or even having an air of condescending superiority because you have a fervent desire to share the Gospel with the Lost. I did not see in your post where anyone could assign such a motivation to you. Of either being legalistic or of being smug or of being Pharasaically zealous.

        I thought this confession was wonderful: “The Lord was very kind to forgive me for my unfaithfulness in evangelism and then choose to use me to be the one to right my wrong. He is an incredibly patient and loving God.”

        Thank you Jordan for writing this post.

  • Ira Pistos

    That was a good post Jordan. I’ve been there so I really have empathy for your pain.
    Your evangelism is well beyond my own. I pray to serve to the full extent of the capacity that God provides me.

    I’ve never created a Facebook account but have recently begun considering what a useful tool it could be for reaching people. Your post has stirred those coals.

    Ed and Karl raise points well worth conversation.

  • Lynn B.

    What an incredible testimony of answered prayer. I’m thrilled for you Jordan!

    At the same time, I’d encourage others to rest in God’s sovereignty if they do not see their similar prayers answered in the same way. After coming to believe that I had shared the gospel poorly in years gone by (i.e. easy believism, it will cost you nothing, pray the prayer and you are in, etc.) when I took the opportunity to share with family the true gospel it was resoundingly rejected. They rather like believing themselves to be redeemed when there is not now nor has there ever been any biblical evidence in their lives of genuine conversion.

    • Truth Unites… and Divides

      “They rather like believing themselves to be redeemed when there is not now nor has there ever been any biblical evidence in their lives of genuine conversion.

      Is it okay to be a “judge” of these things, to be a “fruit inspector” so to speak?

      I think so, but it seems there are some Christians who think it out of bounds for doing that.

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