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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

E is For...

I've been forgetting to direct people to other blogs in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, but encourage you to check them out. There are a lot of bloggers sharing their thoughts on a variety of subjects.

If you think yesterday’s subject matter might stir up some controversy, let’s try today’s on for size. E is for Evangelism.

First we need a working definition of what evangelism is. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, evangelism is “the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ.”

There have always been people resistant to evangelism, associating it with an imposition of faith from an outside group and an effort to “force religion down one’s throat.” I admit that there are some, whatever their faith belief, who abuse the process, having a misguided idea of what evangelism looks like or is. We don’t have to look far to see that at work in the world today.

But no one has ever been successfully evangelized by force. They may make an outward show of belief to save their skin or appease the abusers, but there is no change in inward faith (except to strengthen an opposition to it), and no change of the heart. As you may remember from my post on Saturday, it is the heart that God is concerned with.

Some of Christ’s last recorded words to His followers were these:

Therefore, go, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)
And then He told them, “go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15)

While it’s true that not all are equipped with the spiritual gift of evangelism (see 1 Corinthians 12:8-11), as Christians we must all be ready to give an account of our faith (1 Peter 3:15). It isn’t our job to impose anything, but to be willing vessels to share with others what we know, when prompted by the Holy Spirit or given opportunity through the invitation of one with a heart that is ready to hear.

Wise words from the well-known evangelist
The apostle Paul felt that his life [was] worth nothing to [him] unless [he used] it for finishing the work assigned [him] by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God (Acts 20:24). Like Paul, our purpose is to
 ...tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. (Colossians 1:28)

This may sound weird to the person without faith: “I don’t get it.” And some Christians are reluctant to share their faith in a world where secular humanism rules the day - even though Jesus expressly told us to. They don’t want to rock the boat, don’t want to be ridiculed, don’t want to be persecuted. But I have yet to hear a better argument in favour of evangelism than from atheist Penn Jillette:

Today’s prayer: Lord, You may not have given me the gift of evangelism, but You still want me to share the good news that through faith in Jesus, we are forgiven and loved. Please help me to recognize when people are ready to hear, that I might plant seeds of faith that can be nurtured and grown in their lives.

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