Lead 2-6

No More Us and Them

When you hear the word evangelism, what are the first thoughts that come to your mind? A person preaching? A large crusade with hundreds, maybe thousands of people attending? Handing out tracts on a street? Sharing Christ with a friend?

Evangelism means communicating the news of Jesus Christ-proclaiming the gospel. Evangelism isn’t just the task of the mass evangelist (one who preaches to large groups). Evangelism, according to the Word, is really the task of every Christian. If we were to take a survey of all the Christians in our world today, we would discover that the great majority did not receive Christ through attending a meeting, but rather through someone personally leading them to Jesus Christ.

We are going to discover how you can share your faith the way Christ would want you to share it, tactfully and sensitively.

A Job for Everyone
For Paul, introducing men and women to Christ was the bottom line of his ministry. In Colossians 1:28 he says, "So every where we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen."

In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul gives his young disciple Timothy some instructions.

"Preach the Word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching … But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you." 2 Timothy 4:2, 5 (NLT)

It is interesting that evangelism was not considered to be Timothy’s spiritual gift (a special ability or strength given by the Holy Spirit), but Paul instructed Timothy to be involved in evangelism anyway. Why? Because God’s number-one desire is for people to come to know Him; and He gives us all the privilege to be involved.

When we look into God’s Word we find that the clearest model of evangelism is Christ himself. John chapter 4 gives us a picture of how Christ himself witnessed, and how He would want you and me to witness also.

Socializing in Samaria
Let’s begin our study in John 4:3-9, where Jesus and His disciples are traveling from Judea back to Galilee.

John tells us that during the course of their journey they passed through a territory called Samaria. The location has great significance for our story. Take a look at verse 9: "The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, ‘You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman.
Why are you asking me for a drink?’"

Most Jewish people in that day had a serious problem of prejudice when it came to the Samaritan people.

In fact, the word Samaritan was a word of contempt with the Jews (John 8:48). Most Jews never even entered Samaria. On their travels they would take the long way and pass around the entire region. Jesus, of course, was reared as a Jew. He understood why the Jewish people had this particular bias or prejudice. He understood the implications of traveling through Samaria.

Now besides being a Samaritan, this woman had a specific moral problem: "‘Go and get your husband,’ Jesus told her. ‘I don’t have a husband,’ the woman replied. Jesus said, ‘You’re right! You don’t have a husband — for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now.’" (John 4:16-18, NLT)

So let’s size up the situation. Not only was Jesus talking with a Samaritan, but also with a woman who had serious moral problems. The assumption is that she was a prostitute. Jesus, on the other hand, was perfect. He was holy and righteous, the exact opposite.

What principles do you see from Christ’s example thus far?

Wrong Attitudes
Jesus could have handled this situation much differently than He did. He could have avoided the woman.

What would his disciples think if they came back and found Him talking with a Samaritan woman, a woman who was a prostitute? Jesus was also taking a personal risk of being rejected. 

But Jesus wasn’t threatened because someone might not agree with His message. Jesus saw this woman the way He wants you and me to see people, as someone very special, someone with great spiritual needs, someone lost without God.

No More Us and Them.
As you have been reading, have you thought of some  wrong attitudes that creep up in our lives? What could some of those attitudes be, especially at school?

It’s Us and Them
Here is one attitude I see among some Christians. It’s what we could call the "us and them" mentality. It’s a type of ingrown problem that Christians have. It all starts when we see our local gathering of Christians or our church not as a place where we get encouragement and sharpening for sharing our Christian lives in the world, but as a place where we find security—kind of like Linus and his blanket. We develop "holy huddles" or "God Squads."

What is most tragic about this problem is that we become less and less sensitive to the needs of non-Christians around us. Consequently, evangelism, if we share at all, is a very impersonal task. We witness and run. Is it any wonder that unbelievers are sometimes uptight when we share?

Getting God’s Perspective
For most of us the solution to the "us and them" mentality is filling our minds with God’s perspective.

According to these Scripture verses, what is the Lord’s attitude toward those who have not yet trusted Him with their lives?

"The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. he does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent." 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

"The Pharisees were indignant. ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’ they asked his disciples. When he heard this, Jesus replied, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.’ Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’  For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.’"  Matthew 9:11-13 (NLT)

Jesus never saw people as inconveniences or threats. As far as He was concerned every person who came into His life with a need was a divine appointment. Have you seen God set up divine appointments for you?

No More Us and Them.
What happened?  If you were to have this opportunity again, would you do anything differently?

Becoming All Things
Paul was a great model of one who overcame the "us and them" mentality. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NLT), he talks about his attitude and commitment to those who don’t know Christ:

"This means I am not bound to obey people just because they pay me, yet I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Jews, I become one of them so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with those who follow the Jewish laws, I do the same, even though I am not subject to the law, so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law, I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way, I gain their confidence and bring them to Christ. But I do not discard the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings."

Paul said he was free from all men, and yet he made himself a slave or a servant to men. Why and how did he do this?

How could you become a servant to someone in order to win them to Christ?
Do you have someone in mind? Who?

When it comes to Paul’s challenge of becoming all things to all men, Christians might tend to do one of two things. Either we ignore the challenge and then ignore non-Christians, or we overcompensate and try to be so much like them that no one can tell that we are Christians.

Paul obviously did not have either of these ideas in mind. He was talking about freedom to love people and use different methods in relating to them. Some people he shared with were very religious but did not know how to receive Christ. Others were very secular and worldly and had little knowledge of God.

Paul worked hard to relate with people where they were. Think of some of your friends and how you can relate to them differently. How can you identify with them and help them identify with you? (Identify means to have the same feelings or needs or to put yourself in the other person’s place.)

No More Us and Them.

Name of my non-Christian friend. How can I reach out and relate to him/her this week?

Putting It All Together
The first principle we can draw from John 4 is simply this: God wants us to be available to all people, those who may be like us and those who may be different.

We have discovered that:
1. Evangelism is a job for everyone.
2. We need to ask God to open our eyes and help us accept people as they are.
3. We need to be a servant to those who have not received Christ.

Describe the most significant thing you have learned in this study.

When Paul shared his faith in Jesus Christ, he often shared his personal experience, his testimony. As you share, you will find that being able to verbalize your experience of knowing Christ will help others more clearly understand the Christian life.

My Action — Writing My Testimony

From "So You Want to Set the Pace" by Chuck Klein Call 800.729.4351

This material is available on the "ALL That" CD-ROM. 1.800-729-4351
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