Another great question! There is no doubt that Christ has called and commissioned His followers take the good news to all nations (Matt. 28. 19). However, many Christians idea of evangelism could best be described as “Closing a Deal on a Sales Call”. They think they have to dump their content on someone and then close the deal or else they really haven’t shared their faith. One of the problems with this definition of evangelism, of which there are many, is that all the results ride on US.
This past Sunday, we began a series called ENCOUNTERS. Over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at the ways Jesus encountered the people in his life that were far from God. We do this because we believe that Jesus is not only our model for life, but also our model for witness. John chapter 5 tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with a man who has been an invalid for 38 years. Jesus asks him a question, ‘Do you want to get well?’ Then He heals him right then and there. When the religious leaders show up and are scandalized that he healed someone on the Sabbath, Jesus responds by saying, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (5.19). Here Jesus shows us that God was already at work in this man’s life before Jesus even arrived on the scene. Jesus simply needed to recognize what the Father was up to so that he could join Him in that work.
In the same way, God’s spirit is already at work in the lives of the ‘non-Christian’ and ‘atheist’ that you know. So our job is not to sharpen our sales pitch, but to learn to recognize what the Spirit maybe up to. How do we do that? Well, first, we can ask God to help us be attentive to His quiet whispers and gentile nudges as we talk to people. Sometimes after praying a prayer like that, someone will ask a question and you get a sense that God’s up to something. Yet at other times, you won’t get a sense of anything. Don’t force things; let the Spirit lead the way. Second, like Jesus, we need to learn to ask great questions. By asking questions, we often discover clues as to where God maybe at work (examples: “How would you describe your spiritual background?” “Do you think there is a God?” etc.). Third, we can collaborate w/ God in prayer for the seekers and skeptics in our lives. (ex.“Is it ok if I pray for you about that issue in your life?”).
Hopefully, what you see from Jesus’ example is that we are not ‘forcing’ anything on anybody. We are simply listening for the Spirit’s promptings, asking good questions, and following the path wherever it might lead. That may mean a deeper on-going spiritual conversation and eventual baptism into Christ, or it may mean a temporary detour or dead end (with the idea that God may have you reengage that person down the road or have another Christ follower cross their path). So with this in mind, maybe we should see ourselves more as travel guides on a spiritual journey with people rather than traveling salesmen going door-to-door. We are guides, who nevertheless, know that it’s the Holy Spirit, the one who has been pursuing conversations with people he loves for the past two millennia, who is ultimately navigating and leading our way.
See you Sunday,