vangelism is a dirty word for some. In their minds it is an onerous duty imposed by church leaders upon the laity that smacks of coercion and manipulation. To these, it is something that only professionals can do well, which is why so few church members feel qualified or “called” to do it.
In truth, evangelism is none of this. Neither is it a programmed effort to “witness” to unsuspecting “victims.”
Jesus said, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get” (Matthew 7:12, The Message).
In other words, the essence of everything that is taught in Scripture can be summed up in the thought that we are to treat others as we would like to be treated.
Ellen White said, “Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God, and ‘God is love'” (1 John 4:16)…Righteousness is love, and love is the light and the life of God” (Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 18).
So really, evangelism is simply the promotion of God’s kindness toward humanity. It is the spontaneous and planned efforts we make to show others they are loved by God. It is an invitation for them to embrace a similar attitude toward people everywhere, regardless of their background, ethnicity or gender.
The battle that’s raging in the hearts of people everywhere must not be answered by the church with esoteric arguments about church doctrine or ecclesiology. Doctrines are important when they give us a clearer picture of God’s character, and what he asks of us. But they aren’t the end–just a means to an end! The end is knowing and following Jesus!
Neither is this the time for the church to squabble over who is “authorized” to tell people that God loves them! Anyone who has experienced God’s healing grace can share their story. And the church can either choose to recognize God’s calling in the lives of its members, or it can make up its own rules of engagement that may stymie what God chooses to do, and make the devil laugh.
Jesus said we are to love, not just our friends and associates, but our enemies and those who hate us. This means looking past someone’s skin color, economic status and political affiliations.
“Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived” (1 John 2:4, The Message).
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person” (1 John 3:16-17, NLT)?
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world” (1 John 4:16-17, NLT).
We cannot make this happen on our own. If we let him, God will change our attitudes to reflect his ideals. This is what his Spirit does. Instead of God giving us what we deserve, he forgives our sins and treats us with mercy—something beyond our wildest dreams!
The promiscuous woman who brought an expensive bottle of perfume to pour on Jesus’ feet, had been treated with compassion by him, and it captured her heart.
When some of the dinner guests were critical of Jesus’ judgment and the lifestyle of the woman, Jesus said, “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love” (Luke 7:47, NLT).
The world has been forgiven, which is incredibly good news! Many just don’t know it! And some of the very ones who should be proclaiming the news with great clarity, are off doing other things.
Certainly it is time to stop entertaining the devil with our diversions so we can completely focus on living and sharing God’s amazing grace!
Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.© 2017 - 2019 Church Support Services. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.