I listen to wisdom pour from the mouths of those with far more to share than me, constantly. Sometimes I listen and I don’t think anything comes of it. My wheels hardly spin around the idea, and sometimes I am so uninspired that I stop listening while the message keeps playing. Then, sometimes, it grabs me. Something said in the first 30 second pulls me in and I begin loosing touch with the things I can feel in my physical presence because what I am listening to is far more real than anything else in the world.
One concept that held me so tightly; God’s sovereignty and evangelism. In listening to a teaching from the book of John, I learned that God hardened the hearts of some Israelites. His chosen people. He chose them, but also hardened their hearts so they would not accept Jesus as God in that moment. I listened and recalled then, how God hardened Pharaohs heart in Exodus. In Isaiah “He blinded their eyes so they would not see Him.” Who is this God, who would make a space between humanity and himself? It’s so far from the God I thought I knew. The idea was further developed. “The nations rejection of the Messiah was an outcome produced by the will of God.” It came to be this way because if they had all heard, they would have believed (duh! isn’t that the point?) and if they believed God would have been obligated to make good on his word to heal them then and there, and essentially the Kingdom of Heaven would have come before the gospel could reach the gentiles. “This is good and pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved…” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) He wanted all of humanity and made His chosen people wait, by deafening their ears for a time, so that the message could reach the rest of the world before His Kingdom would be established on earth.
(This is the study I am referencing, specifically lesson 12. I encourage you to listen to all of them. It’s an in depth look at the full gospel of John and really full of amazing insight.)
Whoah. What? So also this brings up the question of sovereignty. If God would harden their hearts, why would we evangelize? What role do we even play? If God has already pre-destined His chosen people, why do we share God at all? He can do it without us. He literally doesn’t need us.
I’m going to change the question a little, to make a point.
(in a tone of distaste)
Why would we even evangelize? implies that there’s no real reason.
(in an inquisitive tone)
Why, what is our motivation, for evangelism? – suggesting we simply can’t see the reason, yet.
Let me pose one last question. What if it has nothing to do with someone’s conversion? What if the motivation wasn’t to see someone become a Christian? What if the motivation, instead, was purely to live more like Jesus. Regardless of how you feel about the theology of evangelism and it’s potential pointlessness, we are all charged with living like Christ.
(for the record I also believe we are to care for the eternal souls of all, but that’s a different point, for another day)
Ephesians 5:2, Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:20 All speak of ways we can live more like Christ. We have “WWJD?” bracelets to remind us to live more like Christ.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Jesus came to bring us the Kingdom of God, so (maybe over-) simplified, our life mission is to become more like Christ, in bringing the Kingdom of God by showing people the ONE source of life abundant. An abundance which reaches beyond death! If Christ is our example and our only motivation is to become more like Christ, no matter the outcome of any one interaction, we will evangelize, we will live from love, we will show kindness to everyone we meet and if we REALLY knew the impact of the gospel, let it wash over the depths of our disbelief, we would be so overjoyed about what it means that we couldn’t be silent!
The God who placed the stars int the sky, put the waves into motion, who stacked the mountains beyond the cloud, who designs every snowflake, He looked at it all and said it was good, but when that same God looked at us, humans, He called us “VERY good”! (emphasis added) We are his desire! To live with us! WHAT?! who am I that the Lord of all creation wants ME? But he does. Does that not break open your deepest self?
It’s been years since I asked someone in public if I could pray for them.
A man was clearly in great discomfort and moved slowly, deliberately but still uncontrolled in some ways, by weakness and pain.
“Excuse me sir, I can’t help but notice the discomfort you must be in. I believe in a God who wants to heal you. Can I pray for you?”
-yes, he said.
“Can I pray for you right now?”
-yes, again, he said.
“can I place my hand on your leg?” (One place of clear discomfort)
His wife thanked me before we parted ways.
I have no idea where their faith is, but I know that The Lord found joy in being welcomed into that place. He loves being asked to heal pain. He is pleased that for just a moment, we asked for it to be “on earth, as it is in Heaven” Is that not the charge of all Christian life?
We Evangelize by showing love, sharing the gospel story, by being kind, by praying for one another, sometimes we are overt and other times we are covert. Evangelism looks different every day and isn’t always a sign on the corner shouting “JESUS LOVES YOU!”
He sees you,
He wants you,
He loves you.
He sees them,
He wan’s them,
He loves them.
Since we know, how can we not share?
If it is not your greatest joy to boast about the stories and great works God has done in you life, you DO NOT fully grasp the darkness from which you have been saved.