Picky Evangelists: Embracing All Evangelism Encounters
I’m that guy.
Every social group has one: a picky eater. As you are reading this, you are probably thinking of that one person in your life. I’ll admit it. It’s not easy! I live a life where I am consistently evaluating “Should I eat before? Just in case…” or faking a smile when friends say, “Oh don’t worry about food! We would love to cook for you.” It can be quite a burden.
All humor aside, I’m not only picky about my food. I am picky about my evangelism opportunities.
“Well, they seem to be in a hurry! I don’t want to bother them.”
“It’s been so long since we have talked… someone else closer to them will share.”
“It could get reeeeaaalllly uncomfortable. I remember the last time we talked about spiritual things. There’s no way I’m doing that again.”
Sound familiar? Yeah, me too.
If we aren’t careful, opportunities to share are evaluated to see if they are:
- Beneficial: How can I gain from this?
- Convenient: Is now an easy time?
- Comfortable: Could I feel anything less than positive from this?
With these criteria, most opportunities fall short. For some of us, we do not even see opportunities like these anymore because of saying no so many times.
Though often viewed as incompatible today, love and truth walk hand-in-hand (1 Corinthians 13:6). As followers of the God of love, we should speak truth. Likewise, as we are followers of the God of truth, we should love at all times. One of the greatest ways you can love your neighbor is by sharing your faith with them.
In her book, In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character, Jen Wilkin writes about how God’s love is different than our love. First, she says that because earthly love is based upon need, it will always be limited. For example, husband and wife need things from each other or their love will wane. God does not need anything from us so His love will never waiver because of an unmet need. Second, she says that we offer love up to others with the mindset that they will return it. Instead of being motivated by reciprocity, God has decided to love us even though he experiences hatred from mankind daily. Lastly, Wilkin points out that we love based on worth. But God consistently shows that He loves us in the midst of our sin by calling us to repentance.
Beginning in Luke 10:25, we find a familiar scene throughout the Gospels: Religious leaders trying to trick Jesus. “Who is my neighbor?” a man asked Jesus. In response, Jesus tells a parable. He narrates the story of a man who was beaten and tossed aside. Two religious leaders walked past this dying man, ignoring him altogether. But a Samaritan, an unlikely protagonist due to historic strife with the Jews, stopped and cared for him. Jesus used this example to show that everyone is our neighbor. As everyone is our neighbor, we are called to love everyone. Not long after, Jesus would demonstrate this very type of love Himself.
Jesus isn’t the Good Samaritan. He is the better ‘Good Samaritan’ who laid down his life for his enemies. Rather than walking by us, He came down from heaven to live with us. Instead of binding our wounds, he revived our souls. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of us rather than giving two denarii.
Just like the Good Samaritan and Jesus, our love for one another should be evidenced by deed, not word alone. However, we should not replace words with deeds, but view them as complementary to each other.
Jesus’ love for us was nor will ever be based on His need, our response, or others’ opinion of our worth. The gospel hinges upon the truth that Jesus invites sinners to be friends with Him. How does that truth change the way you see your ‘neighbors’ around you?
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