THE CALL TO ALL
Let me start by taking one misunderstanding away, and that is that evangelism is only reserved for people with a gift for evangelism. That’s not true.
We are all called to be evangelists...
You see, God is calling some as worship leaders, but all of us as worshipers. God is gifting some as teachers, but we are all called to know the Word of God. God is giving some a burning heart for intercession, but we are all called to pray!
And so, some may be specially gifted in the area of evangelism – they can just start a conversation about Christ with anyone! But all of us are called to be living testimonies of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
I don’t think that Paul could’ve made it any clearer. Everyone who has received the gift of grace and salvation is called to testify of this to others. Whether you are new to faith or an experienced believer, whatever phase of life you are in, if you are introvert or extrovert or something in between. We are all called to be evangelists. God is bringing people on your path that only you can reach! It is your story, your connection and your prayer that will bring them closer to a personal decision for Christ.
And you and I need to realize that we are carrying with us a message that can change someone’s life around completely. Everyone needs forgiveness, everyone needs to be brought back to God because without God there is no life.
And I believe that the main thing that is hindering us in taking up this responsibility is shame. As soon as an opportunity may open up to testify, we may start thinking: What will they think of me? How is this going to affect our relationship? Will I be able to express what I believe well?
Recognizing any of this? I certainly do!
Here is the thing though… what do we really have to lose? We’ve already left everything behind to follow Christ. Right?
We’ve already recognized that we cannot rely on our own understanding, or our own righteousness or efforts – and so why are we so worried about what other people think of us? All that matters is what Christ thinks of us!
Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT)
7 I once thought these things were valuable, (Paul is speaking about his own righteousness here, but I’m applying it broader) but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him.
… preaching the Gospel with words & deeds...
Historically, there has been a debate to what Christian mission should focus on: the inner man or the outer man. They would put social work in contrast with evangelism.
And some Christian groups argued that – it doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor / sick or healthy / educated or uneducated, all that matters is that they go to heaven!
Other groups said: don’t impose your beliefs on others. Just love people and do mercy. Care for people.
But when we approach this matter from a Kingdom perspective (which is what we tend to do a lot in the Vineyard) these two don’t contradict!
When we look at the ministry of Jesus, He didn’t only preach the Kingdom, but demonstrated the Kingdom as well! This is how Jesus started His ministry:
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.
Jesus looked at people in a wholistic way and brought the Kingdom in word and deed. So should we.
What does this mean practically?
When we seek to start reaching out, we look for ways to bless needs – whatever the need is that we feel called to. We bless that need, without a hidden agenda.
The agenda should not be hidden but be open – we are here because we are Christians and want to share the love of Christ with you
Outreach shouldn’t depend on if people are open to the Gospel. We are called to love and to bless, without expecting anything back – and then we see where it takes us.
So, my prayer when it comes to these matters is always first: let me see the needs and understand how Your heart is beating for it.
Again, we take our example from Jesus.
Matthew 9:36-38 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
I like this, Jesus asks His disciples to pray for workers, and next thing you know (the very next chapter), they actually sign up for the job themselves and Jesus sends them out on their first mission trip in.
When we seek God in prayer, He starts to move our hearts for what moves His heart. So we will be able to have the compassion that He has, right to the point where we just have to do something about it.
... through personal relationships & structural activities…
Have you ever looked at someone thinking: “I wish someone would tell you about Christ”?
I think that might be the Holy Spirit hinting you that you should tell that person about Christ. There are people that God will bring on your path that are ready to hear your testimony – don’t be afraid.
Let me give you some do’s and don’t though.
We don’t have to make people better people Yes, Christs teachings had a lot to do with ‘how you live’, but that has to do with discipleship. And discipleship can only really start when someone first becomes a disciple. The Good News is not about becoming a better person – but about salvation through grace instead of our own efforts.
We don’t have to convert people Only the Holy Spirit can do this. The Holy Spirit is the one that brings an awareness of sin and judgement and that leads people to accept the grace of God.
We don’t have to know everything When we testify about Christ, people may ask all kinds of questions that are impossible to answer.
Point people to Jesus Instead of pointing people to how they should live, let’s point them to the person of Jesus; who Jesus is, what He taught and what He did
Bring people closer to Jesus Your job is not to convert, but only to bring people closer to Jesus. Figure out where they are now and what would be a step closer. Listen to the Holy Spirit when you are in a conversation about Christ, and try to connect to what the Holy Spirit is already doing in that other person’s life
Tell how Jesus has changed your life No one can argue with your personal testimony! There’s a place for rational arguments for Christianity, but they rarely bring people to a step of faith – they do prepare the ground. So, instead of ending up in discussion and arguments, just share what He has done in you.
Paul is giving us a prayer to pray every day in his letter to the Colossians. It is my personal prayer that this will be my life-attitude.
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
So, this is something we do in our personal lives, grabbing hold of the opportunities that we get. It starts with prayer. Here is a prayer we can pray every day: “Lord, use me today to tell someone about who You are and what You have done. I’m available!”
And when we go through life with this prayer on our hearts, I believe we will start to be more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit as well, pointing us to the doors that are open.
…because this world needs Jesus.
Heaven and hell are both real places. And God has given us the job to reconcile people to Him again. If we won’t tell ‘m - then who will? I believe God is calling us to be zealous in this.
If they don’t know – we’ll tell ‘m And if they won’t listen - we’ll show ‘m. And if they won’t believe – we’ll prove ‘m and if they don’t understand – we’ll explain ‘m And if they don’t care – we keep going and keep going because God our Savior, wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:4-6)
People argue they cannot believe in a God that would send anyone to hell. Me neither! God doesn’t send anyone to hell – hell was created only for satan and his demons. People send themselves to hell – and God is doing everything to make sure that doesn’t happen! He even sent His own Son to this world to reconcile people to Himself so that they could be saved. You and I are carriers of this Good News.
I remember at seminary, we had a missiology class taught by someone who had been a missionary for many years in Burkina Faso. He asked us this question: “what is the worst thing someone could do in the desert?” “To find water, and tell no one.”
This is why we are all called to be evangelists. Because we have found the living water, the true drink, salvation and redemption – and this testimony should burst out of us, because this world needs Jesus.
So… how do I go from here, you may ask? I want to give you this one urgent suggestion: and that is to pray.
because through prayer God will move our hearts for what moves His heart
because through prayer we will become more and more aware of what the Holy Spirit is doing and what doors He is opening
because only when we live in close relationship with God, we can really testify of who He is
because through our prayer, God will move in the lives of the people around us