When you evangelize, what do you hope to accomplish? What outcome do you want? What do you hope to see? What is the first thing you expect to see when your evangelizing starts to show signs of success?
Immediate Success in Evangelism
Isn’t it naive to expect to win a religious fight and have our opponent suddenly humble himself and declare, “You know, you’re right and I’m wrong”?
Yet we want instant gratification. We want to prove our point and end the argument. The problem is the other side wants the same thing.
One person says, “Believe you you’ll go to hell.” The other side mocks, “God says give me a Mercedes and you’ll go to heaven, so where’s my Mercedes?” God seems to say anything the preacher wants people to believe.
But the Bible says. So what. The Koran says otherwise. So do the writings of a dozen other religions.
So one person says, “Well, you can say and do what you want, but I know you’re wrong, and when you fall into hell for all eternity, don’t complain to God that I didn’t tell you. I’ve done my part.” And both go away feeling they put the other person in his or her place.
Is there anything better than this? If so, why do we keep falling back into this pattern?
Do you want to win or just avoid losing?
If you want to avoid losing, just stay out of the battle. No brainer. Right?
How many people lost battles they never get into? Have you ever lost a battle you walked away from? Walk away. You are under no moral obligation to engage in unnecessary and unproductive wars.
When you brush the sand off your feet, you don’t have to make a ceremony out of it. Don’t feel you need to take any parting shots. Don’t indulge your addiction to having the last word. You should be able to predict they will try to do the same. And the only way to shut that down is to stop valuing the last word. Let it mean nothing of value to you. Let them end up wondering why you did not strive to get the last word they were desperate to get. Let your last word be silence.
You don’t owe them anything. Nothing. Nada.
When the Bible says to make disciples, it does not say to make silk purses out of sow’s ears. It says to make disciples.
If that sounds like a great sound bite or parting argument, see if you can discipline yourself not to use it. You might have reason to feel really good that you have overcome that temptation.
You know they’re not seeking to become a disciple. Give your time to someone who is seeking to become a disciple.
The Bible talks about finding a person of peace. That’s not a person to quarrel with. Perhaps you see someone who needs healing and you pray for them and they’re healed. Or not.
If someone wants to learn more about God, that person is precious. You have someone to share the Gospel with. If you spend more time with them, the hard cases will be more likely to come back and be ready to listen later.
Don’t waste your time on the hard cases while you ignore those hungry to learn more about God.
That’s a great way to start winning and cut down on the losing.
Evangelism is about love, power, healing and giving people a reason to seek God. Too often we squander all of this on compromise, bitterness, unforgiveness, and sin when we should be praying to bury and leave those things behind in the water of our baptism in repentance and prayer.
How do we make disciples? By Example
Jesus said to go, heal the sick, raise the dead, make disciples, baptize them in water and in the Holy Spirit.
If we neglect prayer we will miss opportunities. So what? Isn’t life more important than being on some sort of religious treadmill or rat race?
Some feel that if we sin or turn to a life of sin we won’t lose our salvation, that we’ll only lose our rewards in heaven. When we lay down our crowns before Jesus, we won’t have so many crowns to lay down. Or if there are mansions, ours won’t be so nice. Or our place in heaven won’t be so super-nice.
But that doesn’t really matter as long as we get in. After all, we don’t want to be prideful or greedy. Right?
But what if those crowns we lay down at Jesus’ feet are our loved ones? Our children? Our parents? Our friends? What if we see our loved ones on judgment day and they’re not happy with us because we betrayed them into hell with our example of living in sin and hypocrisy?
Suppose we saved our own skin and betrayed our family and friends to an eternity with infinite pain for failing to embrace the salvation offered freely–a salvation bought and paid for by Jesus’ own blood?
What if we squandered Jesus’ suffering and blood so that it went for nought concerning those we claimed to love most?
What if we only saved our own skin?
Perhaps we would not wish for them to be lost while we were saved. Perhaps if we were truly saved we would wish we could be lost so they could be saved. Maybe we would wish we could trade places and go to hell so they could go to heaven. But we can’t. Or perhaps we are not as saved as we think we are. Saved from what? Hell or sin? Selfishness or the punishment for it?
Why do we care? Why don’t we care?
Where will we go with this?
We obviously need to minister in power. But to do that we need power. We need power to step out of our comfort zone. Or perhaps we need to get a little experience obeying Christ so that becomes our comfort zone. We need to trust Christ and do what He has called us to do in love and in power.
How do we Evangelise? – By Doing
Knowing this, we are responsible. We cannot afford to nod like a bobble-head. We need to live what’s true.
If we need to fast or seek God, let’s do it. If we get interrupted, we need to let those at home know, and remind them and spend that time in prayer until we break through. We need to refuse to offer God any token prayers or any sacrifices that cost us nothing.
I believe token religion is what has gotten us into so much trouble these days. I also believe time is running out. If Christ were to return tomorrow and you knew it, what would you do differently today? Perhaps that is what we should be doing.
We need to minister in power–not argue–not try to win arguments. Not compensating for our lack of power due to our own cowardice and compromise. We need to surrender all to Jesus.