Anyone who’s gone to church for any length of time has heard about The Great Commission from Matt.28:19. The idea behind it is that we were all called to evangelism. But I’m not sure I agree.
When most of us hear the word ‘evangelize,’ we picture preaching on street corners, going door to door with our Bibles, and handing out tracks. And I don’t believe everyone is called to do that.
Eph. 4:11 says:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,”
I’ve seen great evangelists in action, and though I’ve envied their gift and tried to mimic it, I can’t. I’ve prayed many, many, times that God would give me such a gift, to preach on the street corners and hand out tracts, and as of yet, nothing.
I know a common answer to my dilemma is that I need to just grit my teeth and make myself do it; step out in faith, if you will. Only, I don’t understand how my reaching out to people out of a sense of duty alone will really show them God’s love.
If I’m so focused on ‘winning souls’ because I feel the need to reach some sort of quota and thus fulfill The Great Commission, then the real message will get lost and it will become about what I can do for God rather than what He can do through me.
In Matt.22:39 Jesus says that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. I think we are each called to love people in our own unique ways, playing to our own gifts and strengths. One aspect of loving people is certainly telling them about Jesus and His love for them. But another aspect is showing them God’s love.
So while loving others might mean street evangelism for one person, to someone else it could mean volunteering to wash dishes.
Some might think I’m arguing over semantics here and that evangelism is love to a wide degree. But it’s important to get our motivations right because if our heart isn’t in something, then it’s done for naught.
For example, would it be more glorifying to God for me to stand on a soap box and deliver a half hearted message to passer-bys, all the while thinking I’m wasting my time and wishing I were somewhere else? Or would I express love better while playing to my strengths, dong something like free childcare for single mothers?
My grandfather has a gift for evangelism. He can start a conversation with literally anyone and in minutes be sharing the Gospel message. It’s a beautiful gift and I envy it sometimes. But if he were asked to spend the day cleaning a friend’s house, it would be difficult for him because he is elderly, has health concerns, and has so much on his plate already. I, on the other hand, can be a big help when it comes to cleaning.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to find a free pass on sharing the Gospel. I’m a shy person by nature, but if I love someone I will and should tell them about Jesus. How could I say I loved them if I didn’t?
The thing is, we are all created differently, with our own skill sets and gifts. Together we make up the body of Christ. It would be a pretty freakish body if it were only composed of feet. And equally ill-performing if the internal organs didn’t function.
We all have something to offer and we can lose sight of that if we are focusing on responding to a call that God has put on someone else’s life. We are all called to love and that is supposed to look different to everyone because there are so many different jobs to do.
So if you have a gift for street evangelism, go for it! If you have a knack for looking after small children, see how you can help by doing that. If you have a heart for the elderly, find the nearest old folk’s home and go visit with them.
We may not all be called to be ‘evangelists’ in the most traditionally accepted meaning of the term, but we are all called to love. Figure out how you show love best, and go for it!