This is a guest post by Matthew Knapp. Matthew writes for Seminaries and Bible Colleges, which helps people find the right Christian school for ministry preparation. He is also involved with JesusTrees on Twitter.
You’re at a restaurant with a coworker and you get a chance to share the gospel. As you tell your lost coworker how Jesus Christ died for his sins, you become very excited.
You share how Jesus came to seek and save the lost. You explain how he came to save your coworker. At the end of your presentation, your coworker responds with an unenthusiastic, “Ugh…ok, whatever.”
Or, perhaps he says, “There is no God.”
How is God glorified in that situation? The goal of evangelism is to see people come to a saving faith through Jesus Christ, right? If that is the goal, then the conversation over lunch was a failure.
Or was it?
A Common Understanding of Evangelism
A common Christian response to situations like this scenario is, “A seed was planted.”
In many places, at churches, in youth ministries and at seminaries, we fall back on planting a seed. Of course, all Christians hope that seed will grow into a healthy branch that bears much fruit.
The sober fact is, though, that most seeds never grow. Gardeners know that of all the seeds they plant during spring, only a few will produce a harvest in the fall.
Anyone with experience evangelizing to people knows the same is true in matters of faith.
Many people view events like this as failures. Although we try to say, “A seed was planted,” we become discouraged. There is no fruit that encourages us.
A Different Approach to Evangelism
What if as Christians, we started to think of evangelism in a different light? Is that possible?
Please, do not misunderstand this post. The hope of every Christian is that others would accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That is still the hope of this approach, but there are subtle differences.
Would modern evangelism change if we began our evangelism with God, rather than with the lost? What if we began by thinking about Jesus Christ first instead of our neighbors?
At first this sounds cruel and hard-hearted, but in reality, it is the only way we can help our neighbors.
As much as we try to love our neighbors, we cannot truly love them without Jesus Christ. Tweet (tweet this if you think it’s true)
Through Him, we’re regenerated and can love our neighbor. Apart from Him, we are nothing more than cold-hearted people doing nice deeds.
If Jesus Christ, as the image of the invisible Father and sender of the Holy Spirit, becomes our starting point for evangelism, then our understanding of evangelism begins to morph.
We still desperately want to see people get saved, but we first seek the Kingdom of God. Instead of focusing on the person, we show King Jesus to every person around us.
God is Always Glorified in Evangelism
As long as we are showing the work that Jesus Christ accomplished through His life death, resurrection and ascension, God is glorified.
When people respond positively (whether they are Christians already or become Christians), God’s mercy becomes clear. When people respond negatively and do not accept Jesus Christ into their hearts, God’s justice will prevail and become clear.
At the end of this world, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Some of those tongues will be singing of His mercies, while others will sing of His justice. No matter which direction a person is headed, everyone will glorify God.
Have you ever shared Jesus with someone and that person took a pass at an invitation to give his/her life to the Lord? How did that make you feel? How did you deal with the situation?
Build up your brothers & sisters in Christ by sharing your experience.