God's initiative in evangelism

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

One of my favorite books is Michael Reeves’ book, Delighting in the Trinity.

In it, he writes this:

The first thing the Father does, of course, is love the Son, breathing out his Spirit on him. Just so, doing as his Father does, Jesus breathes out the Spirit on his disciples. In fact, he had already said to them: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (Jn 15:9). But the Father also sends the Son; and doing as his Father does, Jesus thus sends his disciples. Like Father, like Son.

That entirely changes what mission looks like. For it is not, then, that God lounges back in heaven, simply phoning in his order that we get on with evangelism so that he might get more servants. If that were the case, evangelism would take a lot of self-motivation—and you can always tell when the church thinks like that, for that’s when evangelism gets left to the more adrenaline-stoked salespeople/professionals. But the reality is so different. The truth is that God is already on mission: in love, the Father has sent his Son and his Spirit. It is the outworking of his very nature.

That means that when we go out and share the knowledge of God’s great love we reflect something very profound about who God is. For when Jesus sends us, he is allowing us to share the missional, generous, outgoing shape of God’s own life. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this: “Jesus also suffered outside the city gate [that is, he went out beyond where the people of God are] to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp” (Heb 13:12-13). In other words, Jesus is found out there, in the place of rejection. That is where the Father has sent him, that he might bring sinners back as children. The Christian life is one of being where he is, of joining in how he has been sent.

And the motivation? Well, why did the Father send the Son? Because the Father so enjoyed loving the Son that he wanted his love to be in others. John 17:25-26 says: “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

And why did the Son go? Because, he says, “I love the Father and . . . I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (Jn 14:31). So the Father sent the Son because of how he so loved him (and wanted that love to be shared and enjoyed), and the Son went because he so loved his Father (and wanted that love to be shared and enjoyed). The mission comes from the overflow of love, from the uncontainable enjoyment of the fellowship. So it is with the Father and the Son; so it is with us.

I love how Reeves has a God-centered view of reality. How does this reflection on the Trinity affect your understanding of what it means to share your life and faith with others?

(SeanO) #2

@CarsonWeitnauer Great thought. Sometimes it is so easy to be afraid that we are not capable or skilled enough to win people for Christ or that they will have no ability to understand our message. But if the Trinity is at work before us, behind us and with us to reach out to a lost world, these fears simply melt away. God will achieve His work in us and through us to reach others not by any gift we possess but by His power and the Christ life in us.

Does anyone reading this thread have stories they could share about how they found God already at work when they were not expecting it or how God used them to reach others in spite of their inadequacy?

(David Cieszynski) #3

It’s those times when you think your sermon wasn’t up to ‘your’ standard, when people come up to you afterwards saying you hit the proverbial nail on the head. Then you know God was working through you.