Exigency in Evangelism

I’m an elitist. I don’t mean to be, but all my proclivities are oriented this way. By elitist I mean I’m a purist, not that I think I’m better than others. I’m in search for the most comfortable clothes, the best cup of coffee, the greatest novel, the most satisfying filet. It is a trap that matches my orientation towards perfection. I want to be perfect. Not in the sense that I look like God, but in the sense that I want everything to be precise, detailed, organized and controlled to the smallest minutiae. I want preparation to be in place prior to engaging in any given task.

This is highly problematic concerning evangelism. I want to have all the verses memorized, all the questions considered, the other person analyzed prior to engagement. This is why I am part of the problem. The great news of Jesus needs none of these things.

Two examples in Scripture help:  

The Samaritan Woman
The first is the Samaritan woman that Jesus meets at the well in John 4. After realizing that Jesus is God’s Savior for the world, she immediately leaves her water jug and goes back to her village to tell everyone she found the world’s much needed Savior (John 4.28-29). Her theological training was minimal and highly erroneous. She took no evangelism class. What she did have was a new found relationship with Jesus. She recognized who he truly is. It changed her.

I’m glad she didn’t get to me first. Perhaps I would have pulled her by the shirt tail back into the church to go over her strategy. Perhaps I would have asked her to wait until someone else could go with her. Perhaps I would have done some role playing with her until I beat the enthusiasm right out of her.

Isn’t the enthusiasm of a new believer a wonderful thing! They are so excited about the change that Jesus brings into their life they can’t help but share it with others. Us Christians who have been there and done that laugh to ourselves. Ha! Dare I say we are full of cynicism. “It will subside” we say. With an air of arrogance we tell these new believers to come under our wings and let us show them the ropes. Evangelism – proclamation of the great news of Jesus isn’t really that easy after all.

It reminds me of this women’s beauty product commercial. It starts out with a litany of medical doctors talking about recent studies showing the amazing healing powers of a newly discovered topical cream. What most people don’t notice is the small type at the bottom of the screen that says “Product advertised not part of the study conducted.” It’s a counterfeit.

Are we being counterfeits? Wisdom is suppose to come with age, but sometimes we get so stuck in our muck of disobedience that we explain it away as conventional wisdom. We refuse to see that it is the new believer who is wise, not ourselves. Here is this Samaritan woman showing us it is not about what we know, but who we know.

The Disciples
It is not as though you have to be a new believer to get this truth. There is another example in Scripture. I hope to live in this pattern. It is the example of Jesus’ disciples. Here these guys start of really excited about Jesus. They go out in twos to surrounding villages to proclaim the Great news (Mark 6:7). Peter even “reminds” Jesus how much they had sacrificed for him, leaving everything to follow after him (Mark 10:28-31). But unlike us, when the disciples encounter the amazing mercy of God it has a radical and permanent impact of a specific sort. Instead of losing steam and focus, they gain it. Instead of becoming cynical because of persecution, torture, death and countless “not interested” glib answers they become more determined. Instead of time wearing them thin they become more resolute, more concerned, more aware of the urgency of the matter. The disciples become more and more zealous as they get older. They become more determined, more outspoken, more bold. They look more like a new convert than a “mature” Christian. All but one of them die a martyr’s death. 

The Great news was real and more was on the line for them than for us. That is precisely the problem. We think we have put our lives in the wager of the great news of Jesus. Careful inventory will reveal we never threw in  our homes, cars, families, money, friends, hobbies, passions, time spent and passion in the wager. I guess we have not put our lives in the wager at all. Because we have gained nothing, we still have everything to lose. Put it all in. It is time to lose this wager in order to win the hand.

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One Comment to “Exigency in Evangelism”

  1. Well said. Things to think about.

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