“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” – Acts 2:37
Where I live in the Chicago area, we have a favorite activity in the fall: apple picking. There’s nothing like walking through an orchard, scanning each tree for that perfect, ripe apple. Take the McIntosh apple for example: early in the season before they’re ripe they’ll be green, but then they turn into a nice red color when ripe. The key here is, you have to know when the time is right.
People are like apples. When it comes to sharing your faith, you have to read the reaction.
Some are red and ripe for the gospel. But some are green and need to stay on the branch a little longer. My wife Jody remembers a time when she was working as a tour guide at Cedar Point’s amusement park in Ohio. One day at the park a sweet elderly lady asks her out of the blue, “Do you want to follow Jesus?” Jody says, “Eh, yes?” and the woman prays the sinner’s prayer with her, but at the time it didn’t really mean anything for Jody. Did the woman do something wrong? Of course not, but Jody was green. She wasn’t ripe to the gospel yet.
I often say it like this, the circumstances of life ripen people to the gospel. The death of a loved one, loss of a job, health crisis, natural disasters, mass shootings. Ultimately, it’s the Holy Spirit working through these situations to draw hearts nearer to Him. Look at the reaction people have to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:37, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”
These people were affected by the recent events of Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and now the Holy Spirit being poured out at Pentecost. They were ripe. But Peter had to read the reaction.
Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to try to pray with someone if they’re not ready yet. God can use these moments in powerful ways. While Jody didn’t become a believer on that day at Cedar Point, she’ll tell you that’s a memory she’ll never forget. God used that moment as a seed to help get her to the point of salvation years later.
So when sharing your faith, be sure to read the reaction. And if you’re reading the reaction and can tell someone’s not ready it can be as simple as saying “If you’re ever in a place where you want to hear more about Jesus, give me a call.”