It’s that He wants to be close to you. It is difficult at first to understand why something with the power of the universe would want to know an individual, but it is because God desires (not requires) all people to know Him. For those who do know Him, the message is not one that is supposed to make people feel awful about themselves, explain every aspect of science, or offer a to-do list for salvation, but rather a message of reconciliation, meaning God wants some conflict-resolution with mankind to eliminate the hurt and misunderstanding that exists for many concerning God and Christianity. It’s about love and healing. It is about realizing that knowing God is transformative and powerful; knowing God is the driving power of Christianity.
I’m still really enjoying the Voice translation, and I’d encourage you to read 2 Corinthians 5 to understand the context to which I’m referring. The title of this post is a reference to a common phrase I’ve often heard during “evangelism training.” Yes, you heard me correctly. There are Christian training programs to teach church members how to proselytize.
Now before you assume that it’s militant indoctrination, oftentimes these programs are created to give people speaking points/tools in order to help them to feel more confident/competent when sharing their faith. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that in and of itself, but it can be a problem if Christians are told it’s the ONLY way of sharing, or if they’re afraid to leave the “script.” I’ve been through several programs for various church/camp/college ministry positions, and there are some interesting ways to share the gospel (Romans Road, Sharing Christ Without Fear, Evangecube, the cross diagram, the wheel, water/bleach demonstration, the color books/bracelets just to name a few).
However, these really weren’t helpful unless I was actually engaged in my faith and learning more about my relationship with God. Anyone can follow a script, but people are more likely to listen if you speak with conviction. If you spend time studying the Bible and learning from other Christ-followers, you begin to see God’s pattern for knowing Him everywhere. I could just as easily share the gospel through the book of Isaiah as I could Romans because the message of God’s love for us, regardless of whether we choose to accept it or not, is still there. I’ve made other illustrations for my campers with things like a flashlight (ask me sometime, I really love that one!), sports games, skits, and pictures, but the one thing they had in common was my conviction in their truth, and a foundation in scripture.
Personally, evangelism wasn’t something that came naturally to me. I still don’t think I’m particularly gifted in this way, but I am trying, and that is all that God asks. After growing up in a Christian environment for pre-k through 12th grade, I went to state college. One of my reasons for going there was to see if my faith could weather not always being around Christians, and to learn about sharing with others.
Spoiler! I’m not the next Billy Graham, and there were many times I felt I either missed opportunities or made decisions that contradicted what God had done in me, but God was still faithful. There were still some people whose lives were changed not because of me, but because of God’s Spirit through me. Let me tell you, when you realize how flawed you are, it always seems amazing when His love gets through.
However, what’s most important to remember is the core of God’s message: He loves mankind and wants everyone to know His love as shown by allowing Christ to die (and rise again) and through the Holy Spirit that is with us now until Christ returns.
Challenge for the week: Consider how you approach sharing the gospel? Are you worried? Are you quick to tell people they need to fix their lives? Or are you moved by compassion and conviction to share the love you cherish the most?