You know that friend you have with whom you share almost everything? I think Paul had lots of those kinds of friends. Reading his letters, you can just feel his intimate connection to some of those churches. When he wrote to the Believers at Thessalonica, he reminded them of just how close they had become when he had worked among them.
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well… For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12 NIV)
To me, this is the true picture of evangelism: a relationship that builds upon the foundation of the gospel to incorporate love and encouragement into everyday life. I think the KJV translation portrays it even better: “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.”
Who is dear to you? Who do you cherish? I often think of cherishing my own children or grandchildren; not so much people very different from me, or people who don’t share my values… Although as it turns out. God has blessed me with some relationships that feel like family even though we are different.
So, What’s YOUR Definition?
And what is evangelism? Is it big crusades with invitations? Is it taking the chance to share the Gospel on the streets? Why we do Evangelism is not based on numbers or results, or even on the importance of our mission; but we should really only share the gospel with someone because we love them. That’s really the only root cause of missions, of being called by God, and of being the Church.
How loving would it be to see someone deathly ill, to possess the antidote, and to refuse to share it with them? Compassionate love is the underlying reason for the gospel, reminding us it is not only about fulfilling a mission but about performing ministry. Evangelism is a means to engage others to encourage, comfort and exhort. It is a way to express to others what Jesus gave to us. Penn Jillette, noted atheist and magician, actually said that he respected sincere Christians who actively shared the gospel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6md638smQd8
Is It Really Just This Simple?
Sharing the Gospel means stepping out from our biases and culture; it means sharing love. Evangelism is not thumping your Bible or out-positioning a skeptic, it is about doing what Jesus said we were supposed to do: love one another. The gospel is delightful and important; it is tender and demanding. It is a call to kingdom and glory, and to service and humility.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a clue from Paul’s letter and at least encourage my own kids, Jessica Nelson, Katy Burton, and Jordan Jackson (and Chris Nelson, John Burton, and Mallory Jackson too!) to “live lives worthy of God”. I know you guys do, and I know it’s not always easy. But take heart, and be courageous! It’s a journey worth taking.
Paul’s verses here in his letter to the Thessalonians remind us that we should urge and encourage one another to live the right kind of life. And to all of us today, Paul says: share the gospel, share your life. That also works when you flip it around: share your life, share the gospel! We were all taught to share in kindergarten. Maybe this is why.
Sharing is Caring
Evangelism conjures up a sermon and a Bible,
A fiery preacher calling folks to have a big revival.
Paul said there’s another way to share the gospel news:
Cherish people. That’s a harder sermon to refuse.
If you’d like to win someone to Christ, then take this dare:
Love them well, just as you’d love a child for whom you care.
Offer them your friendship, showing love by what you do:
And then they’ll find the gospel’s something they can to listen to.
To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread