Jesus’ ministry took place primarily in Israel with a few exceptions. The radius he traveled was roughly 10,000 sq miles. For comparison, my home state of Oklahoma is 69,000 sq miles. His entire ministry could have fit in one state, yet he reached the entire world.
He was faithful where he lived. He brought his message to the people of Israel, and he lived amongst them while doing so. He also trained people. Then he sent them out to make more disciples (followers). The gospel was spread through multiplication. If he did it this way, then why do we rely so much on a few designated "evangelists" at our churches to share the message? If every Christian shared their faith in love, we could impact the entire world in one day.
I’ve used this example in the past, but I’ll use it again:
This month my wife and I are going through my challenge book for the second time. If I complete all 28 challenges, then that’s at least 28 acts of love. If 1,000 people read my book and complete all the challenges. That’s 28,000 acts of love. If I set out to do one act of love a day; it would take me 76 years to do what 1,000 people can do in 1 month. That’s a lifetime of work for the “evangelist” in a church, instead of a corporate effort that can actually reach a city.
As Christians, we have to stop waiting for special occasions to share the gospel. We tend to wait for the next outreach to our city (if there is one available) or until our yearly mission trip. I’m just as guilty as anyone, that’s why I’m writing this. I’m trying to do something about it. With each word I type, I dig myself a deeper hole of accountability.
If I were the devil, I would try to convince Christians to believe they need to go outside their city to evangelize. That cuts out 98% of their life, unless they are full time missionaries. The actual devil has snuck in that very same idea, and we’ve bought it hook, line, and sinker. We have outreaches and mission trips, but on a daily basis there isn’t much going on that doesn’t have to do with ourselves. If we aren't careful, we will compartmentalize the gospel. (I hope you don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying to stop doing missions. As always, I’m advocating that we do more.)
There is one line that is often tossed from pulpits that bothers me the most: "You should live your life differently at work, so that others will see that you are 'different' and ask why."
Has that actually ever worked for anyone? (I'm really asking. If so, how often?) With our society’s turnover rate, by the time I learn my co-worker’s name, they are going to work somewhere else. They definitely aren't asking me for the source of my joy. Maybe I’m just not "Christian" enough for that tactic. I don’t know. It just seems like a cop out to me. Is our best effort really to wait on someone to request for us to share our faith?
If the church is Christ's bride then the story we share with our co-workers should already include him. When I tell people about myself I include Kayla because she is a part of who I am. When people leave out their spouse from their own story, it usually means that they aren't happy with their marriage or that they are up to no good.
I love telling people about my wife. She has been woven into my story so much that I can't tell you who I am without including her. When I meet new people, I always tell them that I'm married. It creates immediate accountability. My goal is to make sure the guys realize that I'm not going to take part in the "boys will be boys" stuff, and to let the women know that I'm off the market. I want to make sure they know that no matter what, the only woman I'm interested in a romantic relationship with is my wife. You would think that this might offend some people, but I've found that it actually breaks down walls and creates deeper friendships. Once I let people know who I am, they don't have to wonder. People appreciate honesty whether they are a Christian or not.
If Jesus used the example of marriage to describe his relationship with the church, then shouldn't he be woven into every Christian's story? If we don't tell people how he has impacted our lives, then are we really a happy bride? Are we omitting him from our story in order to cling to that last bit of darkness in the corners of our heart?
We can be a light by being the bride.
This post isn’t meant to offend or condemn. I just think it’s worth it to look at our lives and see if there is anywhere we can improve. This is an area where I see a huge need in the church. That’s why my first book was about intentionally sharing the gospel, not “overcoming sin” or “powerful prayer”.
I wrote with the purpose of fitting a year of an average Christian’s encounters into a month. My hope is that after 28 days the reader won’t want to stop, but that they will fall in love with loving people. It’s a part of life that is unmatchable in joy. It makes me sad to think that some people who are Christians, who have access to a Bible, won’t ever discover the joy that’s hidden in selflessness.
If you’ve kept up with my blog you might be asking yourself: "Why does he keep writing about sharing the gospel and challenging Christians to do more? Is he ever going to give us a break?"
I doubt it.
I remember what it was like to be a drug addict living amongst Christians. I remember the hopelessness I felt, while someone next to me felt the same peace I have in my heart now. I had no idea how to get it, or at least I didn’t listen when people told me. There are real people out there who are broken and hurting; who need to hear that Jesus cares about them. The stubborn ones like me need to hear it over and over again. Who will tell them? This isn’t just a plug for my book. It’s a call to action for the lost and dying people in our own communities. They are living in anguish while we wait for them to ask why our lives look different.
I just think we can do better.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.