Evangelism made a bit less complicated
This is one of the ‘frequently asked questions’ I hear about living the Jesus life. “I want to share my faith with others – but I don’t know how to do it.”
Everyone is looking for a winning method to win people to Christ. I have worked with evangelists, and watched what they do, and tried to find a winning method. But when you’re fixated on looking for the wrong thing, you close yourself off to other possibilities. Including right ones!
The winning method doesn’t work because we don’t do the winning – the Holy Spirit does. But we have a role to play. We can use our spiritual authority to bring people from darkness and confusion, into a growing realisation of the love God has for them. And we can be ourselves.
For years I knew that I wasn’t an evangelist, not a proper one anyway, and so I was waiting until one turned up.
Then God showed me how wrong I was.
How it works
We want to tell people about Jesus, to share something of the new life we have. But there are barriers:
– It feels like we have to force a conversation.
– They may not want us to tell them anything.
– We’re unwilling to try, and risk rejection.
– We don’t know what to say, or where to start.
So we’re looking for a formula that works. But is it about a formula? Is it about having the right words? Is it even about words, or is it about who we are?
The lesson of Philemon’s reputation
[Paul writes to Philemon:] “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all His holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus.”
What does this tell us about Philemon? It tells us what he was known for. He had a reputation that had spread – a good reputation. He was a man of unmistakable faith in Jesus. But he was also known for being a loving person among the fellowship. He was approachable. He cared. He had a heart.
That raises the question of whether he was loving to those outside the fellowship. There is a kind of person who relates but in a stunted, cliquey way. I don’t think Paul would have wasted words of commendation for such person. I suggest that if Philemon had a genuine, unconditional love for his circle of believers, he would have had a heart for those on the fringe and outside – and would have been approachable by them also.
Sticking to what the Bible verse does tell us about Philemon – clearly he was a man whose life had been transformed, who had a story about how he came to faith and who came across to others with warmth and grace. His new life and new nature was already doing some connecting.