I once heard Trip Lee talk about how to share your faith as a Christian and I love the way he put it. He said there are two different ways to do it—you can either be Batman or Iron Man.
Batman represents the kind of Christian who helps people out, does good deeds, but doesn’t want anyone to know who he is. He hides in the shadows, unwilling to expose himself when it comes to the truth. On the other hand, the Iron Man Christian wants everyone to know who he is and why he does what he does. He’s honest, unashamed, and even in people’s faces about who he is.
So how do we navigate the path of being genuinely authentic in our faith? How do we let others know how Jesus has changed our hearts?
Whenever I talk to the press, my teammates, my friends, or anybody else, I don’t try to put on a show. I simply try to share honestly about what God is doing in my life and how He has blessed me unconditionally. Having experienced God’s work in my life and now watching the fruition of everything that’s taken root in my heart because of how He’s changed me from the inside out, I can’t help but want to share this miraculous truth with everyone I can!
A lot of people have heard the name of Jesus. Plenty of people claim to believe in Him. But I don’t only want to tell people that I’m a Christian, I want to show them what that means—how Christ’s love has transformed my life and made me different. If we as Christians look no different from those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, why would others care what we have to say about Christ? If I don’t set myself apart, no one will really care when I say I follow Jesus. I will be just another “religious” person who they write off.
It’s the radical obedience, the unconditional love, the ability to own my own junk, the humility, the meekness, the qualities of Jesus—it’s these things that set us apart. These are the qualities that let people know I’m a Christ-follower. And when people start to realize I’m a Christ-follower, they begin asking questions. These conversations lead to relationships.
I don’t like the idea of simply letting people know I’m a Christian and then moving on. I’m not going to wait with a Gospel gun, ready to shoot at people when they come by… “HEY YOU NEED TO KNOW JESUS!” I would rather build an intentional relationship with someone in which we will both grow together. I want to learn about a person and have them learn about me. Worthwhile relationships are about complete transparency, letting them get to know who I am and allowing them to open up as well. That’s what changes lives. That’s what Jesus came here to do.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” —2 Timothy 2:15
I screw up a lot. I need grace more than anybody. Because of that, I try to own my mistakes as much as I can. I’m not someone who can walk a perfect life and make everything look great. In fact, I usually make things pretty awkward, but that’s the way God made me so I embrace it. As I own who I am, I also try to love others regardless of what’s going on in their individual situations. Whether they’re a big shot in the Major Leagues or the worst player on the team, I want to love them right where they’re at.
In this league, that is different. Often guys are trying to keep their emotions under their cap, competing to be the toughest, burliest guy, but I’d rather be the first to say, “I love you no matter what!” When we choose to authentically love people for who they are and where they’re at no matter what, that’s when freedom and peace in Christ is revealed.
Steven Souza is a member of the Tampa Bay Rays and a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.