What is the first thing you thing of when you hear that word… EVANGELISM? Well, I won’t speak for you, but I think of an overweight man in downtown Charlotte wearing cowboy boots and telling us all that “you all goin’ to hell”, or I think of a very strange man, boldly handing out tracts, or I think of Billy Graham telling the story of the prodigal son. Evangelism is one of those priceless Christian concepts that I want to see redeemed not only in the understanding of the concept, but to even redeem the meaning of the word evangelism, showing it’s beauty and joy.
Growing up in the South is the most polluted religious areas in the entire world, I believe for those who want to study Ecclesiology there is not a better place to see some of the best and worst “church” models. There are really old Episcopal churches where practicing homosexuals minister in the church, there are legalistic mega churches that carry guns and judge everyone according to there own merit, then there are those who have good doctrine but would not know the holy ghost if he was rattling chains in the attic. I don’t mean to be harsh, but this kind of environment has boiled out all the spiritual curiosity of the melting pot of Charlotte North Carolina.
Evangelism as most devoted Christians have come to understand it has become an act that happens in the will and in the time that the Christian acts. It has become likened unto the sale of a used car… “Just sign the dotted line”. “Oh you don’t want to pay $12,000, just give me $11,500 and you have a deal…” The act of legalism, praying for things against God’s will, and selling evangelism like a get out of Hell free card, is WITCHCRAFT. Only the Father’s love through the blood of Jesus by the Holy Spirit can start someone on a path towards everlasting life with God.
So let’s take the Etch-A-Sketch and shake it a couple times…. Matthew 24 says that those who “endure to the end will be saved.” So salvation is not an act to be had like a notch in the belt, but one to be attained and sought after.
Have you ever wondered why those guys preaching on the street corner freaked you out? Well it is probably because the Christian witness is a holistic transformation of a person to be like Christ and as Isaiah (42) prophesied “He will cause His voice to be heard in the street”. Christ was a gentle, loving, giving, forgiving, self-sacrificing individual. He loved the nobodies deeply, He did not go to the Pharisees to minister they came to Him, he healed the invalid. He humbled Himself as Andrew Murray said, “Even in the midst of the throne, He is the meek and lowly Lamb of God”… Humility is what brought Him from heaven and Jesus is what brought humility to the earth.
Evangelism is what flows from the life of the praying Christian. It the witness that preaches Christ and sometimes it uses words. Evangelism points to the joy and stability of a life dedicated to Christ. I’m not saying that there is not a place and time where people turn to Christ from their wickedness and follow Christ in the will of the Father. I’m saying that the will of the Father and the yoke of Jesus Christ is freedom… freedom from quantitative analysis of souls saved… freedom from stepping in to weird situations of Judgment and bitterness that makes you feel awkward and others feel condemned.
Evangelism is the salt in the mouth of the unknowingly thirsty so they can choose to drink. Evangelism is not an act of the believer it’s an act of God though the believer who is submitted to God.
Do you want to be a preacher? Get to know God, pray always. Want to lead worship? Get to know God, pray always. Want to become and Evangelist? Get to know God, pray always. Want to serve on the leadership team? Get to know God, pray always. Want to be a Missionary? Get to know God, pray always.
Like a deep sea diver with an air hose reaching to the surface, Prayer is the life line to the Christian. The question is are you breathing easily enough to enjoy your time here or are half way panicked. The people of Israel spent most of the time grumbling under the direction of Moses. But do you know what God wanted them to do? Pray.