Christianity seems to be marked by a divide between people who actively evangelize and those who do not. Clearly, some folks are particularly burdened about and gifted concerning the dissemination of the Christian gospel. But it is also generally understood that ALL CHRISTIANS are expected to be ready to make a defense for the hope that is in them and fulfill the Great Commission by personally representing Christ as an ambassador of reconciliation.
2 Cor 517 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [emphasis mine]
We Are All Called
In fact, there is no need for me to even argue that all Christians ought to engage in evangelism in some form. I will agree, as well, that how one Christian evangelizes may not suit another Christian, yet they each may be faithful. I’m not going to offer a minimum number of people per week to evangelize or promote the idea that every Christian open-air preach or do evangelism outside their county fair.
My concern is that if there is a problem in the Church, it is that too many people find excuses NOT to evangelize at all, or they do just the bare minimum to assuage their conscience. Telling people about the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ in regard to their sin is a spiritual endeavor, wrought with cosmic powers over this present darkness (Eph 6:12)—which makes it harder than it already is. No one on this blog will tell you “evangelism is easy.” But we are all called to it.
We Are All Enabled
But we are not called to do what is easy, but what is difficult (Matthew 7:14). We are of all people most blessed, because we have the help of the Holy Spirit of God in our weakness (Eph 1:13-14), and we have the guarantee of election to spur us on to good works. That is to say, because God has unconditionally elected a people to be redeemed since eternity past, and because God cannot lie nor fail, your evangelism efforts are never in vain. You are guaranteed to be successful if you faithfully evangelize—for none of God’s elect will perish.
We have also been specially prepared by Jesus (John 16:33) for the world to hate us and oppose us, so we don’t need to be shocked (1 Peter 4:12) when we face tribulation in this world for representing Christ. In fact, we can be assured of our election when we suffer trials for the faith (Philippians 1:28-29). And God the Holy Spirit provides love in the heart of each Christian that he or she may be like Christ (Gal 5:22, Matthew 5:44), so you should not lack love for the eternal souls of your friends, neighbors, coworkers, family or other lost people you encounter.
We Are All Evangelists
Yet, even with all the gifts of God we’ve been given, many people still do not evangelize. Here are some common excuses I hear:
- I’m just not gifted in that way.
- I don’t like confrontations.
- I am not the type of person who shares personal things with people I don’t know very well.
- I don’t feel like I know enough to evangelize.
- I don’t think the Holy Spirit is leading me to evangelize this person.
Now, to those of you who are living in active disobedience to God’s command to make disciples, I want you to be cut to the heart by this. There are numerous refutations to the excuses listed above or the ones you still harbor in your heart. But ultimately, I want you to know that you are already (likely) an evangelist about something. There is SOME TOPIC that you are not afraid to approach strangers or even family about. There is a topic you don’t know everything about, but you feel strongly enough to have the discussion. There are topics you happily confront people about because you are confident it will help them with their need or you find the topic worth arguing about.
Maybe it’s your diet that helped you lose weight that you happily tell others about. Maybe it’s your chiropractor who relieved your neck pain. It may be the gluten-free option you found at a pizza place. Maybe you are a sports fan and you proudly wear your team’s mascot on your shirts (even to work, *gasp*). Maybe you are a #neverTrumper or maybe you are an advocate for dog safety while riding in vehicles.
Whatever it is, what I have found to be true about most people is that they talk about what they want to talk about, and they want to talk about what they love. We proclaim what we think is good for us or others. People don’t seem to bat an eye offering advice on how to lose weight, beat a gluten allergy, make a pie, or fix your lawnmower. But tell people to tell others how they can be eternally saved from God’s wrath through the free gift of grace in Jesus Christ and all of a sudden, people lose their boldness.
We Are All Guilty
Lest I be labeled a pharisee, let me admit, to my own shame, that I have very often found myself to be bold in areas other than the gospel and a cowardly, selfish, fool when presented with a chance to tell someone about eternal life. I have made the excuses too: “I’m too busy,” or “This isn’t the right time.” or “Maybe they’ve already heard.” Or, the worst excuse of all, the indicator of self-love: “What if they don’t like me?”
I thank God that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ covers all our sin, even the active disobedience to the call to proclaim His name. Let us all repent together and commit to asking God to make us bolder in this area (Eph 6:19-20).
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.