31 October, 2013 Tim Hanson
I find that I read a lot about evangelism and I talk a lot about evangelism – but at the same time I know that I don’t do enough. To be honest, when I talk about evangelism, I feel a bit of a fraud.
I’m trying to avoid being racked by guilt and sending other people on guilt trips, but I do want to pray that God would give me a greater love and burden for the many people I know who don’t know Jesus.
In our church in Cheshire we have recently been preaching through Acts 10-12. This is the remarkable and stirring account of the Gospel being spoken and bearing fruit in Gentile households and communities.
These chapters reinforce what we read in Acts 8 verse 2:
“Those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went.”
Chapter 11 verses 19-20 say this:
“Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.”
I am sure that we understand from these verses that the Gospel is unstoppable and the Gospel spreads when Christians talk about Jesus.
It’s that simple but it’s also that hard, and understanding the simplicity is very challenging.
Being involved in the planning for the next Passion for Life mission in 2014 has made me reflect on my own evangelism. I think (others may disagree!) that I am quite a friendly person. I have a number of good friends who are not Christians. We do various things together; a bit of running, often going to the pub or the Indian restaurant.
But ‘talking about Jesus’ is another challenge.
A caricature of my evangelism over the years would look something like this: I take a friend, to whom I have hardly ever spoken about Jesus, to an event where, at the end of the evening, someone else tells them about Jesus. After the talk there is an embarrassed silence, which I end by talking about football; we go our separate ways and hardly speak about Jesus again.
It’s a caricature, but it’s a bit too close for comfort.
Do I think that the people of Acts chapters 8 or 11 would recognise my evangelistic strategy? I doubt it very much!
So how am I going to change?
I really want to change, because I love the Lord Jesus and want to see Him honoured in the lives of my friends.
I also love my friends and don’t want them to carry their own sin to judgement and go to hell. I want them to ‘fear the Lord and do what is right’ (Acts 10v35) and I want them to teach their families about the Lord Jesus.
First, I am going to pray for my friends. I do sometimes, but not with a burdened and heavy heart that would be more appropriate. I am shocked by my own arrogance; in Ephesians 6 verse 19, Paul asks people to pray for him. When did I begin to forget the absolute necessity to plead with the Lord, to ask Him to have mercy and to open blind eyes?
Secondly, I am going to do fewer church things and take time to deepen these friendships. Some years ago I set aside Monday evenings as my non-Christian man night! This has since been swamped by other things. I am going to do my best to recover that.
Thirdly, I am going to use the Passion for Life resources. With fear and trembling (I don’t know why; I’m just a bit pathetic, I think!) I am going to ask a couple of people to read through John’s Gospel with me.
What about your evangelism?
For the glory of the living God and His risen Son, let’s talk more about the Lord Jesus.