I want to join a number of other bloggers for several posts on evangelism. A large family of churches called the Baptist General Convention of Texas is using the slogan “Hope 2010” to focus attention on sharing Christ with every person in Texas by Easter of 2010. There is also a strong emphasis on prayer and compassion attending this emphasis.
For me evangelism has never been just one hat among many that I must wear. Helping people to know Jesus Christ is the heart and soul of everything ministry is about. In fact the test for me for every program that we have is “What are the evangelistic implications for this program?” Count me among those who still believe that going on other people’s turf to share good news is still effective. I still make lots of house calls. Some today use the term “propositional evangelism” to describe the method of sharing the gospel and asking for a response. I want to speak to that issue.
There are many recorded instances of one on one communication between Jesus and others. These form the model for us of how people may be reached. Jesus really saw people. People must never be just numbers and names to us. We must try to see them through the eyes of Christ. This is why prayerful preparation is so essential to effective evangelism. One of the things that I pray for is the ability to see people clearly. I ask the Lord to give me insight into a person’s needs and their nature. Jesus listened to people. You can listen people into the Kingdom of God. He heard what they were saying, but he also heard what they were not saying. We must pray that we will have ears to hear what people are saying and wisdom to know how to respond. Jesus loved people. Even the rich young ruler who went away sorrowful was reported by Mark to be loved of the Lord. (Mark 10:21) We are not being true to Jesus if we do not share his message in love. Is it possible to love those we have just met? Yes it is, if we have the heart of Christ. This can only be true of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. Once I was sharing Jesus with a marine pilot. I had met him at a restaurant as the result of a phone call. He was not a Christian, but he was under great stress and hoped I might bring him comfort. After sharing Jesus with him for several minutes, I was moved to say to him, “You may find this hard to believe, but in these few moments we have been talking Christ has given me a great love for you. I really care about you. I hope you know that I am not sharing with you for any personal hope of gain. I just want you to know the peace of the Lord.” His response was, ” I believe you. You are full of love.” To which I replied, “What you are experiencing is the presence of Jesus who lives in me by His Spirit.” He did not receive Christ that day. In fact, I never saw him again, but I will never forget his response. I pray that every time I share the wonderful story of Jesus there will be an awareness of His wonderful love expressed through this “jar of clay”.