Sometimes, evangelism feels like eating the sprouts in your roast dinner. You don’t really want to, but you know it’s good for you. And besides, it’s what you signed up for when you ordered the roast.
As a fresher at university, I signed up to first-contact evangelism, which meant standing in the student hub every Monday lunchtime, trying to spot the person who looked least likely to throw a library book at my head if I spoke to them about Jesus. Gradually, I started to spend Monday mornings convincing myself I was coming down with something, or that, yes, the kitchen floor really needed cleaning urgently! And if I did – eventually – push myself out of the door, it was normally because the words of the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) were ringing in my head…
So often we grin and bear a duty-based form of evangelism: sharing Jesus with others because that’s what we should do, right?
I was a Christian, Jesus was my saviour, but when He asked for obedience, I offered reluctance.
So often we grin and bear a duty-based form of evangelism: sharing Jesus with others because that’s what we should do, right? But just like it’s not fun to show up to a distant friend’s party because you feel it’s ‘the right thing to do’, sharing Jesus without truly enjoying a close relationship with Him means our evangelism becomes a painful, ineffective duty.
And yet, God meant evangelism to be a delighted overflow – like telling your friend about a fantastic new ice cream flavour you’ve discovered. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, it should be “Christ’s love that compels us” (2 corinthians 5: 14) to help our friends “be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our warm, enjoyment of Jesus should be so fulfilling that we want to let others know about it.
Our warm, enjoyment of Jesus should be so fulfilling that we want to let others know about it.
The command of the great commission should become easier to obey, because it’s what we want to do.
So the next time you encounter an opportunity to share your faith – stop and assess how you feel. Reluctant? Or keen? Because those feelings are often symptomatic of where we’re at with God…
Are you enjoying Him immensely and want those you love to know Him too? Or is God just ‘okay’, perhaps even a burden – and you’re unsure why you’re even sharing Him with your friend? This will tell you if you’re living in the joyful reality of a relationship with Jesus, or if you’re simply sitting in the status, wasting what you have easy access to.
Are you enjoying Him immensely and want those you love to know Him too?
And that’s the key to genuine, more effective evangelism: enjoying communion with God, always.
This may seem easy to write in 700 words, but we all known it’s harder to do in everyday life. We can’t suddenly change from enduring brussel sprouts to claiming they’re the highlight of a roast, just as I couldn’t make myself want to do first-contact evangelism no matter how hard I tried.
Our underlying desires are difficult to change, but this is the beauty of our relationship with God – if we ask Him then He will make that change in us. Through prayer, He will open our eyes to how wonderful He is and bring us into the joyful depths of a close relationship with Him.
Why? Because He wants that for us.
For those of us in that place of reluctant evangelism and perhaps feeling luke-warm about Jesus, this prayer by W. A. Tozer is a brilliant place to restart:
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, I want to want Thee, I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ name, Amen.