10 Important Things We’ve Forgotten About Evangelism, Part 2

10 Important Things We’ve Forgotten About Evangelism, Part 2

« Continued from Part 1

6. There are opportunities all around us to share the gospel.

First, it’s important to realize that God created us as creative beings. Sometimes we see evangelism as a slavish obligation, something we do wincing with our eyes shut. But consider the examples we’re given in Scripture. Jesus constantly spoke using parables—common everyday examples that illustrated spiritual truths. He was keenly aware of the things around him and used them naturally as part of the conversation. When speaking to the Samaritan woman in John 4, Jesus used a familiar item—the well—to help illustrate his point. When Paul spoke at Mars Hill in Acts 17:22-31, he used the altar to the unknown God he came across to help the Athenians better understand the gospel.

Second, it’s important to realize that even obstacles are opportunities. When Paul appears before Agrippa in Acts 26, it’s easy to forget what led him there. He was betrayed and arrested in Jerusalem where he had opportunity to preach before the Sanhedrin. After escaping a death plot there, he was brought before Felix, the Roman governor. Every one of these hardships led him to audiences he would not have otherwise had.

7. Not everyone will believe.

Isaiah 6 is a difficult passage: a holy calling, a willing servant, a vivid demonstration of God’s purity… all for people who God knew would not respond. Yet God sent Isaiah to tell them, to give them the choice. God, knowing full well whether a person will accept or deny, offered the choice. We are called to take the gospel to everyone, even to those we don’t think will accept it.

This truth is both sobering and encouraging. Knowing that some will not receive it should break our heart in pieces; if God sorrows over the prodigal who does not return, so should we. The encouragement comes when we realize that we cannot force someone into this choice; it is theirs to accept or reject. We can only place the choice before them.

8. Salvation takes a moment to receive and a lifetime to understand.

One thing that troubles me most about modern-day evangelism is how quickly we throw new believers under the bus when they make mistakes. Our gut reaction is often: “Oh no, they’re not acting like a Christian should act” and we respond by abandoning them. Look at Paul’s approach in 1 Corinthians 3; he compares new believers to children. I don’t punish my 7-month-old son when he dirties his diaper; he’s young and hasn’t learned yet how to take care of those things himself. Patient love and teaching are an essential part of the Great Commission.

9. The gospel is a message the world desperately needs.

Love is not self-serving. It acts in the best interest of others. If what God says about the human condition is true and we are to love people genuinely without hypocrisy, how can we conceal this message that the world so desperately needs?

We often make the false assumption that people are “fine” without Christ and that we’re just trying to give them something nice in addition to their already nice life. This puts a relationship with Christ roughly on the same level as choosing your cable television provider.

But consider the beggar mafia in the slums of Mumbai where corrupt doctors disfigure children to make them more effective beggars. Consider the lucrative slave trade in Haiti where you can buy a young girl for pocket change—over 400,000 children sold in 2002. Consider the abortion industry in the United States where 1.37 million abortions are performed annually, 93% of them for social reasons (the child is unwanted or inconvenient)—approximately 2400 unborn children will have been killed worldwide before you finish reading this post.

10. The sin that Christ saved us from is the same sin that condemns unbelievers to hell.

There are two important responses to this truth: humility and motivation. Our salvation has not come because we are more holy than others, because we are more impressive in the eyes of God. Salvation comes through God’s amazing grace. That should make Christians—of all people—the most humble. And the most motivated to share the grace of God with others.

C.S. Lewis explains just how weighty this truth is:

“It is hardly possible for [us] to think too often or too deeply about [the glory] of our neighbor … It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” (The Weight of Glory, pp. 14f.)