“You might be the only Jesus that some people ever see”. Undoubtedly, you have heard that phrase. It is supposed to motivate us to holiness—especially around unbelievers. And it’s a decent statement. But, have you ever totally blown it around an unbeliever? If you are the only Jesus they will ever see then their view of Him is going to be pretty shallow. Perhaps, you said something stupid. Maybe it was something that you did that Jesus would probably not have done. Is your witness totally blown at this point?
It is my opinion that evangelicals have bought into the myth that a follower of Jesus has to be perfectly like Jesus in order to be an effective witness. This is not to say that holiness is not important. This is not to deny that we are to adorn the gospel with our lives. But if the gospel requires perfect examples of Jesus then nobody is going to come to embrace the God of the gospel.
One of the consequences of this myth is that discouraged believers struggle with personal evangelism. Because they are very aware of their sinfulness and because they assume they will “blow it” by their lives they are timid in sharing the gospel. I understand that often this is an excuse for not engaging unbelievers, but nonetheless, such a fear is present. Alongside this are believers that shamefully stop engaging an unbeliever with the gospel once you’ve “blown it”.
Perhaps the biggest consequence is that in order to be perfect examples of Jesus we fake it. We are often surface and inauthentic as we engage unbelievers. We do this because to really be authentic would be to show our brokenness. And because the gospel that is often shared is “Jesus will fix your life” we make a really poor example of an “abundant life”. So we fake it; and that is perhaps the most ineffective witness that we can have.
Here is the point: the most effective witness might be to believe the gospel enough to ask for forgiveness. If you blow it then perhaps the best way you can proclaim Jesus is by modeling repentance and believing in the power of Jesus enough to be authentic. So, if you blow your witness (and you will) then show Jesus by being humble enough to admit that you are wrong, don’t stop modeling the gospel.