Evangelism. We all have a reaction to that one little word. What’s yours? Fear? Excitement? Anxiety? Heartache? Joy? A strange cocktail of emotions that you can’t put your finger on?
I’m a pastor’s kid, which means that I’ve heard the word “evangelism” for just about as long as I can remember. And fortunately, my connotations are pretty positive. A little anxiety-inducing at various point in my life, but on the whole, pretty positive.
As I think about my relationship with Jesus and what it’s looked like to share the good news of the gospel with other people, there are a few themes that emerge.
The Weight of Eternity. I can vividly recall contemplating how to share the gospel with a friend of mine in middle school. I knew she didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, and I also knew that she needed one. I remember trying to anticipate what her reaction to the gospel would be… Would she think I was a weirdo? Would she stop talking to me? Would she make fun of me? We were pretty good friends, and the fact that I was a Christian wasn’t a secret… so I don’t know why I was so worried that sitting down to explicitly tell her about what a relationship with Jesus offered her would end our friendship, but I really did wonder.
I also vividly recall the moment my worrying changed.
Somehow, the Lord pressed a single question into my heart & burst through all of my fears.
“Would you rather her be mad at you now, or be mad at you for eternity?”
Yikes. That’ll change your perspective real quick, if you really think about it. When it came right down to it, I was valuing our temporal, earthly relationship above the eternity of her soul. And if we can see that comparison for what it is, there’s absolutely no contest. I’d rather sacrifice our friendship than sacrifice her opportunity to hear the soul-saving good news.
I don’t say that to minimize friendships, either. I’m not saying ignore their weight willy-nilly. I’m just suggesting that we may need to set our friendships into the right framework.
The power of community. A friend of mine used to wonder at the decisions I would make and the way my friends and roommates would respond to me, or sacrifice for me, or love me in general. At some point, I decided I’d start to work the gospel into conversation by responding to the questions with, “Well, that’s just what Christians do,” or, “That’s just how Christians work.” My friend would laugh and shake his head, but over time, that response opened up conversations I could have never anticipated.
You’d be surprised how many questions can come up when unbelievers see Christian community and people are loving each other like Jesus commanded us to. There’s a reason Jesus told the disciples:
“ By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
So don’t be afraid to invite your unbelieving friends and coworkers to join your small group’s cookout. Invite them to your kid’s birthday party—the same party you invite all of your church friends to. There’s a good chance they’ll say yes to coming to a party at your house, even if they don’t dare darken the steps of a church. Take advantage of that.
You have to use your words. Yep, even us introverts. (Check out Natalie’s post from earlier this week!) At some point, you will have to use words to share the gospel. The supernatural way you and your friends love one another will generate some questions and may start a few conversations, but at some point you’re going to have to explain exactly what’s so “good” about the news you have to share. Paul makes it pretty clear in Romans:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:14, 17
They have to hear in order to believe. Which means you have to speak. And you can do it in the power of the Holy Spirit. Praise God for the Spirit!
So, there you go. Put things in perspective. Don’t be afraid to invite your unbelieving friends to hang out with your Christian friends. Use your words when the moment presents itself.
All in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God, and the good of the people He will draw to Himself.