The Power of Patience in Evangelism
There are three necessities for effective evangelism in 2021. The first is patience, the second is patience, the third is patience.
Patience has power.
A person called me the Thursday before Easter to tell me he was ready to come to Christ – one whom I and others had been working with for several years. With approaching non-Christians about spiritual things in today’s age, patience is greatly needed and greatly used, and once again, is powerful.
That ought to bring two questions to your mind: 1) why is patience needed, and 2) what makes patience so hard?
Why is patience needed?
There are several reasons.
To begin, people are not coming from the same background that they did fifty years ago when God was an often-used name, the Bible was a frequently read book, and church was a normal experience. For that reason, spiritual things are an unknown item to many non-believers.
Also, what you mean by “spiritual things” and what they mean by that phrase are possibly two different things. You may be referring to something in the Bible whereas they are thinking of some mystical experience. But the thoughts and ideas people were raised with fifty years ago are not often the ones they are raised with today.
Secondly, we know there is only one gospel. That gospel is defined in I Corinthians 15:3-5 as “Christ died for your sins and rose again.” They have heard many “gospels”. One person says, “This is the way to the hereafter,” another says, “My way is the way to the hereafter.” Therefore, they must decide who is right. That can take a great deal of time, endurance, conversations, and interactions with people. The Spirit of God will direct them to the Truth, but it probably won’t happen overnight.
A third reason is that throughout the day, there are things, in a non-Christian’s opinion, that need to have priority: How long will I have my job and what will I do if I lose it? Am I about to get cancer? How do I avoid Covid? How can I keep my marriage intact? How do I deal with a wayward and rebellious child? How am I going to pay my college expenses?
We know that there is nothing more pressing than a person knowing the Lord. Life could end tonight! (James 4:13-14) But that is not the way non-Christians think. A comment often heard is, “I am not concerned about the hereafter; I am just concerned about the here and now.”
What makes patience so hard?
To begin, patience in any area is not easy. We quickly identify with the expression, “God, give me patience and give it to me now.” That difficulty with patience carries over into evangelizing.
Secondly, we know what we have found in Christ, so we want that for them NOW. Even when we look back on our own lives, we wish we would have come to Christ sooner rather than later. Never have I had one person say to me, “I am sorry I came to Christ.” I have had thousands say to me, “I wish I had come to Christ sooner than I did.”
We think of all the things we could have done differently, the better decisions we could have made, the time we could not have wasted, and the way we could have made our lives count for eternity at an earlier age. As a compliment to us, we do not want them to make the same mistake and wait to do something that needs to be done now – trust Christ.
A third reason is that we quickly forget how long it took us. Believers are often critical of how long it is taking someone they have talked to about the Lord to come to Christ. They often say to me, “Why can’t they see it? It makes so much sense.” I often ask them, “How long did it take you?” I often have to laugh because they sometimes get this embarrassed look on their face as they have told me about the years they put off the most important decision of their lives. How quickly we forget.
Remember, we can only bring Christ to people, only God can bring people to Christ. (John 6:44) God will honor your faithfulness and bring unbelievers to Himself. He loves them even more than we do. You may be one of many God uses to bring someone to Christ. In the meantime, it takes patience, patience, patience. If you let God through His Spirit give you patience, you will see the power of patience as God uses it in the life of an unbeliever.
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