Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Truth, Adventure and Mystery of Evangelism

For too long the truth, adventure, mystery and joy that comes with giving away the life of Jesus has been stolen from the ordinary believer.  We have been taught methods of sharing Jesus that feel more cold, distanced and dutiful than life giving.  We have heard that just a few gifted ones will really be successful at evangelism.  This is yet another blow designed to sideline the ordinary person from engaging in the supernatural act of sharing the life of Jesus with those who are so thirsty to taste the goodness of God.

The Truth
The great commission is often seen as Jesus’ marching orders to make disciples which must include the initial and ongoing sharing of Jesus’ good news with those who have not yet heard.  The great commission and Jesus’ similar instructions to the twelve in Acts 1:8 were delivered directly to His twelve Apostles.  This has caused some to believe that not every follower of Jesus is responsible to engage in giving away the life of Christ; it simply is not their gift.  This is not the truth.  There is an often overlooked statement in the great commission that instructs the Twelve to be teaching their disciples “...to obey everything I have commanded you”.  The Twelve were to teach the ordinary believer to obey everything Jesus taught them which includes the making of disciples or the being a witness to all the world.  Everyone is responsible to be intentionally sharing the life of Jesus with the world.

The truth is that the ordinary person is a competent minister of the good news (2 Cor. 3:6).  The truth is that success in evangelism should be measured by conversations about Jesus not conversions to Jesus.  Ordinary people are only responsible to tell about and demonstrate the love of Jesus.  Only Supernatural beings are responsible for the results, “I planted, Apollos watered but God was causing the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).  Everyone is an evangelizer and success is measured by obedience to share. 

The Adventure
The church needs to rediscover what has been stolen from them.  We need to give back the cold, distanced and dutiful methodologies* of evangelism for the more adventurous, risky and romantic renditions that only Jesus can create and place in our souls.  The church needs some fresh adventures in understanding how serious Jesus is at getting the message into the souls of people.  When we think about engaging people with the truth we should capture the understanding that Jesus is a customizer of methods, not a cookie cutter.

Jesus will take a believer with all their experiences and fears and have them cross the paths of not-yet-believing people who are a perfect fit for the customized approach Jesus gives the believer, at the perfect time.  This requires trust and obedience but it is exactly what Jesus promised.  Jesus said He will give us the right words at the right time, every time (Luke 21:13-15).  This takes the level of our faith and evangelism to a whole new meaning of adventure.

The Mystery
I can count fifteen people who shared Jesus with me in some form or fashion before Ralph shared the same truth with me and my life was transformed radically.  Who was more important in my choosing to follow Jesus, the fifteen or Ralph?  Was Ralph more gifted or skilled or persuasive than the others?  Did Ralph ‘close the deal‘ because he has an anointing ?  I believe that all sixteen of those who told me about Jesus are equally vital to my process of turning to Jesus.  All salvation experiences are mysterious.  Some are dramatic, some are mundane, others cannot be marked by an event.  Salvation is always a supernatural event where the God of the universe enters the life of a human being permanently.  When the rich young ruler heard what was required by Jesus to gain eternal life, he became very sad.  Jesus’ disciples asked him if a rich man can’t be saved “...then who can be saved?”.  Jesus answered, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” (Luke 18:18-27).

Enjoy the freedom of not knowing what God is doing in a soul - enjoy the mystery.  Be assured, however, that God is doing something in the souls of those with whom you share His truth.  Trust in His God perfect and powerful ability to draw people to repentance in the way they need.  Obediently follow His lead, even when it doesn’t make sense because most mysteries do not make sense.

The bottom line regarding evangelism is to enjoy it (weird huh?).  Jesus is an artist of the soul.  He created you specifically to engage the people He brings in your life with His truth.  Enjoy His adjusting the delivery of the message to fit the current need of the one listening to your words.

If we learn to enjoy sharing the life of Jesus with others as He leads us, we will most assuredly share that life more often and with more passion.  The Scriptures teach that the more we sow, the more we will reap.  The power behind people coming to Jesus is not in any delivery, method or medium.  The power behind people coming to Jesus is always in message (Rom. 1:16) so give away the message often and with joy and enjoy watching God at work.

* God can, has and will continue to use a more formal, methodological approach to giving out the Gospel.  It is not wrong to do so, however, it has robbed the fun of spiritual reproduction from the ordinary believer.  The giving out of the Word will never return without an effect on the one hearing the truth.