Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The "E" word

I have been a Christian a very long time. I have always been told that I was supposed to share my faith, but nobody told me how easy it was to start, how adventurous an endeavor it is, nor how fulfilling it can be!

I have been awakened. I have opened my eyes to a new world!

What it isn't (preface for nonchristians)
I know that some who read this may not be Christians and probably have an entirely perverted view of evangelism. You've seen 'Evangelicals' yelling about how homo-sexuals are going to hell. This is not evangelism. My experience has been that it rarely involves the four laws, though sometimes gets there. They need to be translated over the course of at least an hour for most college students. Let's take a simple "gospel" presentation as an example:
"You were made good by God, but are now a sinner in need of redemption which you can obtain by faith in Jesus Christ."

Most of you, my peers, don't believe in God (or mean something entirely different than a Christian), you don't believe in objective morality (so the word 'sin' has no meaning), you have a violent gut-reaction to needing someone else's help for anything. You probably define 'faith' as "believing something contrary to the evidence" so think that it's a silly to have it in anything. And you almost certainly believe that Jesus was a great teacher who never performed a miracle (because miracles are impossible); in your minds, he is in no way capable of anything beyond a good sermon. Each of those objections must be addressed by anyone attempting to 'evangelize'

Evangelism is in the simplest terms, sharing good news. Literally it is derived from the word from 'angel' meaning 'messenger.' I believe I am living a more effective, fulfilling and happy life because of my relationship with Jesus. It is the same kind of thing as when I tell you, "I did really well in Molecular Biology when I studied with a group; I'd recommend it." I care about you and want you to do as well as I did in the course. I don't want to 'convert' you to Study Groupism and so feel superior because I won you as a convert. I just want you to do well. The more I cared about you and the worse you were doing in the course, the more I'd try to convince you to study in a group so that you do well. It is about my concern for you, not anything selfish. The same is true of Christianity. Christ has brought me fulfillment, love and hope. I just want to share it.

I hope this explanation makes sense, but I know it probably doesn't. Evangelism is, in all likelihood, still considered by you a great evil. I assume it has to do with relativism, but I have never been able to fully understand why this doesn't make sense. I would be very happy if you could articulate your objections to me.

The rest of my account will be addressed to Christians; nonchristians read on at your own risk.

Realization #1 - It's fun and easy
There are a million ways to "share my faith." It just takes intentionality. Almost any conversation can be comfortably shifted to a spiritually fruitful one with a question or two.

For example, I was talking about FISH. "It was miraculous that FISH did what it did. And I mean that literally. Are you a big believer in miracles?" My friend responded, "For sure!" and then described a family member's miraculous recover from cancer. Then I simply asked, "So then are you a believer in God?" And it just flowed from there.

I have also realized that there are benefits of relativism. Namely, most college people believe it is a sin (or the closest atheistic equivalent) to offend you. There was a time when a person I was talking to described how unreasonable it was to condemn others. I said that I was one of those who condemned others. You wouldn't believe how fast he backpedaled.

Realization #2 - It's adventurous
It is one of the most exciting things we could ever do. It is true spiritual battle!

The times I am most alert, most humble, most passionate about prayer and most hungry for the Word are those times when I am ministering. Because it is a desperate battle for the souls of men and women. The realities of these things we have been taught are never more real: the value of the Word, the power and desperate need for prayer, and the impossibility of our fight through flesh.

It is the greatest privilege of this world. The prophets of old did not have this privilege. Jesus himself didn't. He reserved it from before time began for us, His Church!
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
- John 14:12

It is true in general for Christianity and it is especially true for evangelism: Christ is the only way to jump the track and live a life that is truly free. If we do not follow the spirit, our life is determined. We know where we're headed and, like Autopia, we'll make sure that we follow the road. Our greatest rebellion is hitting the bumper and continuing on the track. The Holy Spirit gives us the chance to break free and go where He leads. We have the terrifying opportunity to trust God that our destination is good. It is no longer like a track or a trail, but cross-country, like the wind.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
- John 3:8

It doesn't stay easy. And I'd be disappointed if it did. God will eventually ask hard things and glorify Himself and us through them. But in asking hard things God is giving us a chance to really capture the adventure we desire so deeply. We pay billions of dollars to watch adventure in movies and to experience it in theme parks. Like a drug, we pay to satiate the hunger. But now we can have true adventure! We don't know how it ends, except that the good guy wins. We each can be a hero greater than Superman and an adventurer seeking a treasure greater than the Holy Grail. But being a hero and an adventurer takes courage. So man up and take the first step.

Realization #3 - It's fulfilling
There is nothing better than sharing your faith. There really isn't. As a Christian, it's the thing
we're supposed to do. It's our job. Our goal is to pursue Christ, but I really believe that direct evangelism is the physical manifestation of that. Certainly you may not have the gift now to be an evangelist, but ask for it! We're supposed to seek the greater gifts!

The great commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor. The greatest thing we can ever give someone is eternal life. I have never cared for those people around me than when I am praying for their salvation. I have been so fulfilled this last month that I've seen God work in this way.

Here is a list of people I'm praying for. If you are a Christian, please join me. If you think you see your name on this list, believe in Jesus. Once you tell me, I'll take your name off.

Matt, Anna, Melissa, Errol, Geia, Henry, Bonnie, Nathaniel, Sona, Sunny, Shirley, Sarah, Andrew, Afton

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