I was sifting through some old papers today and came across a few thoughts a friend wrote down a while back about evangelism. His original thought is in italics; my comments are bulleted.
When we are not spreading the gospel, we become distracted from our primary mission/purpose in life.
- I’m not sure what he meant by becoming “distracted from our primary mission/purpose in life.” I would say that I agree with the Westminster Catechism when it asks, “What is the chief end of man?” and it is answered, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That is one goal, glorifying God and enjoying him. That is our primary purpose. However, when that is not our goal, we will not be sharing our faith. When we are not sharing our faith, we are distracted from that one, great, chief end. It’s circular, yes. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. For us to achieve that goal of God being glorified, we must evangelize (cf. Is. 48:11; Ps. 67:1-7).
We have the misconception that when we share our faith that all should be well; but it is the opposite. Life will be tougher, and people will slander us.
- Your best life now, right? Wrong. A quick survey of Paul’s life will not reveal that his life was easy. When we are in a war-time mindset, knowing that life is a spiritual battle that never ends, life will be harder. The spiritual joys (in this life and eternity) will be so much greater, but most certainly we will experience trials in order that we may be refined (Rom. 5:1-5; James 1:2-18; 1 Pt. 3:13-17).
We share with two types of people: religious and non-religious.
- I think that everyone is religious, whether they say so or not. You can be religious about how much time you spend playing video games as it may be your functional savior for coping with life. You can be religious about not drinking, smoking, or having sex. You can be religious about going to church. You can be religious about trying to disprove that God exists. Everyone is religious. From my friend’s perspective, he was making the point that people either consider themselves “religious” or “non-religious.” People will not give any other kind of answer. “Oh, I’m not religious,” some say. Others, ”I think I’ll go to heaven; I’m pretty religious.” Be prepared, like Paul, to be all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:22) and ready to mold to the religiosity of the people you are working with (Acts 17:22-34). But remember, in God’s economy, there are only two kinds of people we meet: elect and non-elect. Those who are elect will hear God’s voice and the gospel will come with power and conviction when it is heard (Jn. 10:25-30; 1 Thes. 1:4-6).
God does not use people in great ways because of what it will do to them (i.e. God doesn’t use someone to make them famous).
- Paul wasn’t a missionary so he could be on the cover of Time Magazine. In fact, look at what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13, “For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” Not a great picture, huh? Certainly, we are not called to be ministers of the gospel for our fame and fortune. All the fame belongs to God and God alone.
Our fellowship becomes more fulfilling when we are engaged with each other in the trenches.
- In 2 Corinthians 1:6, Paul says, “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” This is deep, honest, transparent community. Paul’s churches were very connected to him; they felt what he felt and he felt what they felt. It even says that they experienced what he did! Through what medium did this happen? Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. No doubt Paul, the Corinthians, and the other churches in the New Testament were experiencing fulfilling relationships.
Many Christians are bored out of their minds because they are disengaged from the battle; they have begun to live the “comfortable lifestyle.” Have you ever seen a person who is in the trenches for the Lord and not been excited about Christian life?
- Ah, a sweet taste of Christian Hedonism here. In John 17:13, Jesus prayed, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” John Piper wrote, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” The Christian life is about joy, but most importantly joy that can be spread. When we are intoxicated with God, are we not satisfied with him? Is it not most glorifying to him to be treasured most in the universe since he is the greatest thing to be treasured? And furthermore, should not a treasure be shared so others may enjoy it? When we engage in the Christian war of missions and evangelism, we will experience the abundant life Jesus offered (John 10:10). We will then taste and see that the Lord is good. Because of this, we will proclaim to the world, “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice!” (Ps. 32:11). When this happens, we will be able to say, with missionary David Livingston, “I never made a sacrifice.”