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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Evangelism: Its in Everything I Do

I have been thinking a lot about evangelism lately. I have especially focused on how I got it wrong for so long. I thought that my job was to pointedly tell people who Jesus is so that they wouldn't go to hell. I believed that the only time I was doing evangelism was when I shared the gospel. Anything else was not sharing who Jesus is.

I have realized the error of my ways. While I still believe we must share the good news pointedly, I don't think that gets close to the whole story of evangelism. That is why churches can send out hordes of evangelists to share Christ in their communities with very little result. People know when you are reciting something that isn't in your heart. They know if you are really caring about them or are just appeasing your conscience. They know who is trying to be a good Christian rather than allowing Christ to change them into someone good. They can recognize the difference between love and obligation. They want no part of in appeasing our consciences or allowing us to fulfill our obligations at the expense of their time.

Years ago I read a little book called "The Gospel Blimp." It tells a story of a church who wanted its community to know Christ. The members of that church bought a blimp that they flew over their city broadcasting the gospel with loud speakers while dropping evangelistic leaflets. The loud speakers and leaflets, which got caught in the people's gutters, were just a nuisance. Meanwhile, one of the members who had a true concern for his neighbor began getting to know the neighbor by spending time with him. He developed a relationship and wins his neighbor to Christ.

Many people want to separate caring for people and evangelism. I used to be one of those people. I wanted people to give the unadulterated gospel to people they didn't know as quickly as possible so that they could share with more people. I still believe we should use every opportunity but I don't believe that the gospel can be effectively broadcast without loving those it is shared with.

Evangelism is in how I treat everyone. It goes with me grocery store. It happens when I open the door for those behind me. The gospel is there when I create a gap so someone can merge into traffic. The gospel is evident in my treatment of waitress who has been slow refilling my coke. It is evident within me even if I have no opportunity to share verbally with that other individual. I can't turn on or off the gospel and truly be effective in sharing Christ. It must be on and stay on if I am to see people give up this life to accept a life in which Jesus is Lord.

I either treat everyone I know as if he or she is Jesus or I don't really understand the gospel. I will never be able to say one thing while people are observing me do something else and be anything more than someone who is more interested in himself than those he is trying to reach.

Those with whom I am trying to reach already knew this. I am just now coming around.

Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV) 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have a friend who attends a Christian college. He and some buddies often go into the city to "evangelize" the unbelievers. He frequently makes statements on FB about the number of souls that were reached for Jesus. I've always had this sort of knot in my stomach when I read that. I mean, what happens next for these poor newbies? Sometimes it seems like the new converts just represent another notch in the belt of the person evangelizing.

I'll be honest, I'm not a Christian. But I am curious. I'm not interested in just being another notch. I want someone to tell me what happens next. Yes, I get it. You get to go to heaven. But what happens now?

Oops. Sorry, guess I sort of went off the track there. Anyway, I am enjoying reading your musings. Hope you'll continue.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, don't mean to be a "drive by" commenter. The previous comment was by me.


annah

Prentis said...

Annah, I wish more people were as thoughtful as you. You have asked what happens next. I think there are four things that would keep new and old Christians focused.
1. Make sure that you live what you say you are- you can find out how to live in the Bible.
2. Make sure you love like Jesus.
3. Make sure you share who He is in everything you do.
4. Make sure you pray like He can do something about it.
Do something crazy- Just give your heart to Jesus without anyone else around. That way you won't be a notch in anyone's belt! That's what I did because I couldn't stand the evangelist who told me about Jesus. However, somehow I knew it was the truth. I gave my life to Christ in a '66 Mustang with no one else around.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response. Although I don't think I'm ready for a commitment to God yet, I really like your idea. The idea of not needing a witness to my connection to God. Very simple idea yet it made an impression on me.

annah

SOON said...

Hi Prentice McGoldrick,


I've just found your blog and notice your emphasis on evangelism. I wonder if you have seen my friend's page and resources about online evangelism, at
www.internetevangelismday.com


blessings


Gweno