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 isnt 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
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. Dont 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 Timothys spiritual gift (a special ability or strength given by the Holy Spirit), but Paul instructed Timothy to be involved in evangelism anyway. Why? Because Gods 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 Gods 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
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.
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 dont have a husband, the woman replied. Jesus said, Youre right! You dont have a husband for you have had five husbands, and you arent even married to the man youre living with now." (John 4:16-18, NLT)
So lets 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 Christs example thus far?
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 wasnt 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.
Its Us and Them
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 Gods Perspective
According to these Scripture verses, what is the Lords attitude toward those who have not yet trusted Him with their lives?
"The Lord isnt 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 dont 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 dont 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.
Becoming All Things
"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?
When it comes to Pauls 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 persons place.)
No More Us and Them.
Putting It All Together
We have discovered that:
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