Thanks for making it so plain. Loved the blog!
We can be evangelists for our computers or the latest tech, but talk about your faith in the wrong place these days and you might get arrested.
Evangelism and evangelists have fallen on hard times in America. Whereas Billy Graham was one of the most esteemed men of his day, we tend to think of evangelists as charlatans in cheap suits. The word "evangelism" sticks in a lot of people's throats like a bone. We've seen it all and we've grown cynical.
Most young Jesus-followers want nothing to do with evangelistic activities. The social gospel is where it's at these days. We're good with loving people as Jesus did, but not so good with preaching the kingdom as he did.
The idea of evangelism is biblical – it's God's idea. It's the first phase in the discipleship process – a get-to-know you time. We just may need a little help in understanding why God likes it more than we do.
In that regard, it may be helpful to think back to a time when you felt lost. Have you ever felt so lost that you started to panic? You had no point of reference to get where you were going and it was scary.
Once a friend's three-year old son went missing. We couldn't find him anywhere. Finally, my wife, Karen, figured out that he thought his mommy had gone to the grocery store, so she headed that way. Sure enough, there he was, a little boy walking along a big road, trying hard not to cry, doing his best to find his mom.
As Jesus describes it, God's kingdom is a place where lost things are found. He says it's like finding a hidden treasure or a valuable pearl.*
You have to have felt lost to get the power in his metaphors. As we realize we were lost and he has found us, we understand the treasure we are in his eyes. And having grasped our belovedness, we can join him in helping others see themselves that way too.
We were born to be with him and bring others into his presence. He reconciles us in our broken state to himself and asks us to invite others to the party. He wants us to think and to dream about this – it's a passion of his that he wants us to share.
And as we share this dream of his, we see what an incredible thing it is to partner with God. We see how wonderful it is to help a person see that God loves them.
If you've experienced it, it may have been the high point of your life. God longs for us to join him in touching the world with his love. It's his dream. To join with God in helping others experience his love is a privilege that we we need to grasp. It's a purpose to which we must commit.
I think you have to have experienced the sense of utter despair that comes when you feel utterly lost and abandoned by God. You have to have felt God's embrace rescuing you from that place.
The truth is that people all over the earth feel ugly, forgotten, and estranged from God. The Bible calls them "children of wrath," and that's how they feel – at odds with themselves and the God who made them, living in a scarred and forgotten place.
They need someone who will help them find their bearings again. There are few feelings that can match the feeling of helping a lost person find his way back home.
“We’re good with loving people as Jesus did, but not so good with preaching the kingdom as he did.”
Thank you for pointing that out. We are called and commissioned to take the WHOLE Gospel to the Whole earth. One thing I appreciate about my friend Steve Sjogren who some consider the founder of the contemporary Christian kindness evangelism movement, is that while Steve is incredible about cleaning business’ toilets and handing out free cold drinks, and washing windshields and free car washes…he is also prayerful and alert and not ashamed to listen for and respond to Holy Spirit prompts to give words to the Gospel as well.
Good stuff. In our inner city there ARE many people that evangelize. Unfortunately, there are few ministries that disciple the people that are evangelized. You see many of the inner city people that are evangelized are homeless, prostitutes, alcoholics, or drug addicts. After they are evangelized they are offered transportation to church once or twice a week. This is not enough to help them live each day in victory. We have a ministry downtown that offers Bible study seven days a week from 7-3 and a few nights each week. We have been called to do this. Evangelism and discipleship must go hand in hand.
I’ve shared the same concerns, Seth, and I’m grateful you addressed this so well. I am NOT of the persuasion of “preach the gospel and when necessary, use words.” A friend posted recently, “Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use a megaphone.” When we’re lost in the woods, we need more than a drink of water or a prayer or kind words. We need someone to walk with us and clearly show the way out!
This is a good challenge but just such a hard thing to grasp. How do we move past the misconceptions of evangelism and bring Kingdom? Or do we just bring Kingdom and let everyone decide for themselves?
I’ve recently been realizing how many Jesus ministered to and how many actually followed Him after He left. Somewhere around 10% which is crazy because we have the expectation that everyone we minister to will come to Christ.
“YES LORD…” Man, I love this post. Good Kingdom stuff. I still remember the year, the month, the night, and the hour when Jesus’ love touched down on this ol’ boy. Amazing love, how can it be… I believe that God is going to raise a generation to do both the works and words to demonstrate the complete and full GOOD NEWS! “Come Holy Spirit…”
Thanks Seth. This was insightful.
In Virginia as I send this.
Great words! I love your woods analogy! What Seth is saying and the quote about living it and not needing to speak it has gone overboard. This is exactly what people are ‘not’ saying as much in churches. I will admit I have not been as aggressive as I used to be and I need to pair with people to use the voice I’ve been given. There is no set formula. The fact is the gospel should be preached in many diverse forms because people are diverse.
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