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March 1, 2024


 

I was sitting with my life group the other day as we studied a series on evangelism called “Lost Cause.” The premise of the series is that evangelism may seem to some Christians as too difficult or outdated. The word itself means that which brings joyful news. The difficulty is that most Christians don’t feel equipped to share the good news of the Gospel with the people who God has placed in their lives.

 

The author of the Lost Cause material insists that evangelism is not an outdated cause at all. The Church of Jesus Christ has the only message in the history of the world that will point people to full life in Jesus. Evangelism is critical. Followers of Jesus need to learn how to share the Gospel in a way that is personal, loving, and compelling.

 

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” The meaning behind this is full of Gospel truth which commands Christians to live lives of love, goodness, and faithfulness which in turn model Christ to others. The problem with this idea is that it makes very nice and generous people who leave others without any knowledge for the motivation of their kindness and love. What is the Gospel without the name of Jesus being known?

 

Evangelism necessitates words (along with actions) which point people to Jesus. In Matthew 19 Jesus is approached by a man. He asks Jesus what he has to do to get eternal life (both his approach and Jesus’s interaction is rich with vital Gospel messaging). However, there is one line in Mark’s telling of this story that has always astounded me. It says, “Jesus looked at him and loved Him.” (Mk. 10:21). What a beautiful and seemingly unnecessary phrase to include. With a simple glance, Jesus’s love washed over this man. He could have just answered the man’s question. He could have ignored the man and moved along his busy way. He could have asked his disciples to take care of it. But he didn’t. The conversation Jesus had with him showed patience, care, love, curiosity, and truth.

 

Last week’s Momentum article touched on this, but I wanted to go a bit deeper on this specific aspect this week. Catholic philosopher, Jean Vanier, said, Love is “to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves.” How do we share the Gospel with another person? We wrongly suppose it means that we must have all the answers to their theological questions. Or we think we will need to argue a point like a Bible college graduate. We mistakenly believe that we’ll sound stupid or get yelled at by the other person. Sharing the Gospel first and foremost is sharing love with another person. Our love and God’s love. Sharing love with another person in the name of Jesus is to show them how God sees them. This is both simple and difficult as “practicing the presence of people.” It was this idea that my life group sat in my living room discussing last weekend.

 

How do you see the people with whom you come in contact daily? Maybe it’s your spouse, your children, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Seeing people isn’t just viewing them with your eyes. “Practicing the presence of people” involves looking at them with love, compassion, and urgent care for where they will spend their eternity. It means slowing down. Listening to them when they share about their weekend, when they complain about their workload, when they show their anxiety. It means sharing less about yourself and your opinions and instead asking questions that reveal your interest in their lives and stories. Questions which probe a bit deeper into their “why” and “how.”

 

This doesn’t take long to do. It can take mere moments. But eventually, as you practice being present, you will get your turn to share your thoughts and your story. Eventually, you’ll be asked some questions, too. And that is when the name of Jesus will come out. You’ll share about your experience with how Jesus impacts your attitude, stress, hurt, work, family, and your weekend. And perhaps without a Bible college degree, vast experience in church, or lengthy memorized Scripture quotes, you’ll be evangelizing… sharing the joyful news of Jesus.

 

With you,

Nathan

 

  


Nathan Hinkle

Lead Pastor

White Oak Christian Church





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