Discussion Board Forum 2: The Dirty Work of Evangelism
Submitted to Dr. Jon Bishop, in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the completion of the course:
EVAN 525-B10 LUO
Jeffrey Michael Davis
September 9, 2015
Evangelism over the last several decades has changed drastically and if the church is going to continue reaching the lost and hurting world, they are going to have to be willing to be completely transparent and prepared to get dirty. As Will McRaney Jr. states, “God chooses to use flawed people like us to carry and share His message.” This means when people see Christians, they should see Christ in them by the way they act and by the way they speak. People are constantly watching and if we poorly represent Christ by our lifestyle, why in the world would unbelievers want to become a Christian based on our actions and choices? McRaney furthers this argument by saying, “as the world becomes more anti-Christian and looks more unlike Christ, it is imperative that Christ followers possess different values and behaviors from those without Christ.” In reaching today’s world, Rick Richardson says, “In the past, being an expert and having the answers were what built credibility and a hearing. Today, having the same questions, struggles, and hurts are what builds credibility and gains a hearing.” God’s word says, let our yes be yes and our no be no and that by our love for others was how the world would know we were His disciples. It has become a sad reality that the world knows more what the church and Christians are against than what they are for.
In terms of evangelism, Paul instructs Christians to plant seeds, water them, and to ultimately prepare them for harvest. Using this illustration, it is imperative to be doing all of these continually because if you do not plant, there will be no harvest and if you do not water and maintain, there will be no harvest. McRaney illustrates, “we plant seeds by loving people towards Jesus with small acts of kindness in the name of Jesus. [We water them] by serving them, laughing with them, and crying with them in their times of grief.” Doing life together is one of the most important parts of evangelism yet it is one of the areas that are shrinking with each generation. McRaney points out that, “our natural desires are to pursue selfish ambitions and personal comforts. We no longer live in a society that places a high value on community concerns.” Connecting with people is becoming harder to do even in the age of web connectivity. In essence, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Emails, and text messages have made the need for personal connection obsolete and it is through these deep personal connections that evangelism is most fruitful. That is not to say some of these tools cannot be used to stay in touch with people, but face-to-face interaction has no substitute to communicate the magnitude and importance of the Gospel.
Biblically, we are called to testify, to witness, to be ambassadors, to proclaim the good news, and to eventually lead others to Christ by laying out all the benefits and sacrifices required to be a follower of Christ. A lot of people get hung up here because they only tell the unsaved about all the good things while leaving out all the sacrifices and lifestyle choices that are now required of them. If we do not communicate the whole truth, in essence, we are selling a lie and being manipulative. One of the biggest misconceptions about the sharing the Gospel is, “we mistakenly think that we save people. God alone does this… and we fall into a trap if we believe that witnessing is about selling a product to make people’s lives better.” Connecting with people can be incredibly difficult so as ambassadors of Christ, we must always be open to the Spirit’s leading and constantly make ourselves available by telling others what God has done in our lives. Dealing with people can be messy, but we all have baggage from our past and in many cases the trials and tribulations we have walked through open doors for us to speak life and truth into the lives of people walking through similar circumstances. If we would take a moment to think back to how hard it was on us as we walked and sometimes crawled through trying seasons and realize we had Jesus on our side and then put ourselves in unbeliever’s shoes fighting alone; I believe we would see the people around us through the eyes of Jesus and we would have more care and compassion for their predicament because they are captives in a battle and Christ is the only One who can set them free.
Jesus was a friend to sinners and many stories and parables illustrate how He always interacted with people considered to be undesirables, and as Andy Stanley so eloquently put it, “where there is no relationship, there is no influence.” If we are not willing to meet people where they are, if we do not want people to come to church dressed a certain way or smelling like an ashtray, how in the world are we ever going to show them the love of Jesus? McRaney says, “it is easy to say we love the world, but loving an individual is more difficult.” Jesus died on the cross for everyone; He was despised and rejected by men; He was spat on and cursed yet He still died for their sins. Even as He struggled for breath as His lungs were suffocating, He cried out to the Father to forgive them for they knew not what they were doing. Jesus taught his disciples to love even their enemies and people who despised them and He expects the same from Christians.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of the Good Samaritan because I can relate to the person who was beaten, robbed, stripped, and left for dead on the side of the road. In this parable we are presented with three individuals who passed by: the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan. The first two who you would think would want to help simply passed by or walked around the dying man, but the Samaritan took pity on him. In Luke 10:34-35 (NIV) we read, “He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” This is a true example of servant evangelism without even saying a word. To Jews, Samaritans were considered half-breeds and worse than dogs yet despite this prejudice, the Good Samaritan looked past any hatred or past hurt to help a person in need. In many ways Jesus was like the Samaritan; He was an outcast, religious leaders rejected Him, and He was willing to help and ultimately die for those in need. As Christ followers, we are called to be Christ-like and the only way people are going to see Christ in us is by the love, acceptance, and forgiveness we show to those in need. This means getting your hands dirty and sometimes it may even mean you need to get in the hole to help someone out. If we are not willing to get dirty and put forth an honest effort to help people, we are never going to reach people who are lost and hurting.
Evangelism has many facets just as in the parable of the harvest. We may play a small or even a one-time role while other times we are an important person in their life holding them accountable and being a good example through discipleship. Regardless of our role, we must always remember what we do for the least of them; we do for the Master. Relationships can be messy because they always involve the collision of two pasts, but with God at the center, you will always be working towards a common goal. Evangelism costs us time, energy, and sometimes resources, but in comparison to the price Jesus paid, the least we can do is bear some of the failures and consequences of unbeliever’s pasts by being their friend. We must never forget that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners and if we truly want to thank Jesus, we will spread His Gospel to as many people as possible to add even more worth to His sacrifice.
McRaney, Will Jr. The Art of Personal Evangelism. Tennessee: B&H Publishing, 2003.
Richardson, Rick. Evangelism Outside the Box. Illinois: IVP, 2000.