Thursday, January 10, 2008

Awkward Evangelism

The other day I was reading La Shawn Barber's blog and stumbled upon this piece about evangelism. I found it very interesting, and it raised a lot of questions about the emphasis that I put on evangelism in my Christian experience. Needless to say, I find straight-up evangelism a little awkward and difficult. So do most Christians my age, it seems. The Campus Crusade conference I attended was full of seminars on how to evangelize. They gave us tons of tips, tricks, and icebreakers to use, but in the end it all seemed too complicated for me. I've always felt that evangelism, like other aspects of Christianity, should be relatively simple when you get down to it.

But evangelism isn't simple, at least not for me. It's hard to share the Gospel with unbelievers, especially if they are friends. Some people will smile politely and tell you how flattered they are that you care about them, but then will say they think you're wrong. Others won't even be polite, but will get downright offended. Honestly, it's hard dealing with that kind of rejection. For a Christian, the Gospel is a part of you, and when someone rejects it, it's not hard to take it personally.

I think a lot of Christian kids look for "easy" ways to deliver the Gospel, in an attempt to share it truthfully but without people getting offended. I'm not sure there is such a method, though. Aside from that, they can get a little too caught up in wanting to see the fruits of their work immediately. Sure, it's great (and not too difficult) to say, "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners." A lot of people will believe that, actually, but will they take it to heart? Will they ask Him into their hearts? Will they be saved? Will they start going to church and getting involved? Will they start spreading the Gospel themselves?

Those kinds of questions can be difficult. I think if one thing has bothered me more than my own assurance, it's the assurance of people I know and love. Simply put, there are many people that I don't want to be missing from Heaven, and I can get too caught up with whether or not they are saved that I don't focus on my own salvation enough.

Later on in her post, Ms. Barber made this remark, which I liked: There is no such thing as failed evangelism. If we don’t “win the soul” of the person we’re sharing the Gospel with at a given moment, we have not failed. It’s God’s business who he saves.

This is very true, and I suppose I have to remember that just because I never see a person come to Christ, that doesn't mean they never will. Like I said, some Christians I know have a problem, in that they share the Gospel once and then then throw their hands up in the air if they don’t see immediate results. Sometimes, I suppose, our evangelism is just a small link in a chain of Christ’s calling, the full effects of which might not be felt in that person’s life until years later... After we've moved on.

I know I’ll probably always struggle with friends of mine who continue to be nonbelievers despite my evangelism. I hope and pray that they will one day come to Christ… That He will call them to Him. And I continue to share the Gospel with them at every appropriate opportunity. Perhaps I’ll never in this lifetime be assured of their salvation, but I can’t lie and say that there aren't people I care for deeply who I really want to see in Heaven!

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