The week is still young and already I have had a number of conversations about evangelism with members of the church. It thrills me to speak with those who are eager to share the gospel with others, in the hopes that God would save some. And as I reflect on this good work I realize that all too often, too many seek to avoid it. Their reluctance is not that they are callous to the spiritual need of others, it’s due to a wrong expectation that they impose on themselves. Performance anxiety gets in the way.
Duane Liftin corrects this thinking in his book, Words vs. Deeds:
It is the height of human presumption to conclude that the power of the gospel lies somehow in us, so much so that if we fail, the gospel itself is disabled and rendered impotent. We must resist our sinful bent toward this presumption in order to remain clear about where the true power resides. The gospel’s potency lies not in the messenger, however faithfully we may be fulfilling our calling. It lies in the intent of the Spirit to use the gospel to bring men and women to God.
Let us keep our thinking clear: it is the gospel, the word of the cross that is the power of God for salvation. And evangelism, if we are to speak biblically, is the heralding of that good news to all who will listen. If many within our generation prove to be unwilling to hear that good news, they will not be the first to do so. Perhaps, like Isaiah’s generation, their hearing of God’s truth will only drive them deeper into their unbelief. Yet even if this turns out to be the case, we must not allow that cultural reality to confuse our understanding of the evangelistic task or undermine our confidence in the gospel’s power to do its work.
Evangelism is the act of giving verbal witness to the good news of Jesus Christ, confident that its power does not fluctuate with the strengths or weaknesses of the messengers. This is a humbling truth but also immensely liberating. In the end, my inability to answer objections, my lack of training or experience, even failures in my own faithfulness in living it out, do not nullify the gospel’s power. Its potency is an intrinsic thing due to the working of God’s Spirit. The sobering and liberating truth is that even at our best the gospel is powerful in spite of us, not because of us. Thanks be to God.
We are not required to be exceptional, just explicit. If you have opportunity, and I am quite sure you do, share your faith. Do it as well as you can and leave the results to God. The power of the good news is in what Jesus has done, not in the retelling of what he has done.