Shawn, one theme I’ve noticed in evangelism is fear. We are afraid to share our faith. Have you ever felt afraid to share your faith? What helps you share your faith when it is risky? How can we grow past our fear and be confident evangelists?
Yes, I have felt afraid, but as I come to grips more and more of the life giving and transformative work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the more I grow in my boldness and desire to share the amazing news. If we are not seeing the gospel do what it promises to do in our lives and the lives of those around us, then I can see why we might fear sharing it. We might fear sharing the gospel because we may not actually believe it.
I know this is a strong challenge, but we have no problem telling people about the life transformation a new diet, a new technological device, or a new way of organizing our lives has had a positive effect on our lives, right? Is the gospel really not as important as these things? Is the latest invention in artificial intelligence really more impactful than the good news that I have been reconciled with the creator of the universe? I think not, but do my actions prove consistent with my thoughts?
One problem we have is the cultural pressure to be silent on “religion” while it is open to a vague spirituality that doesn’t define things. So I understand the resistance that comes our way, but we need to identify the pressure for what it is and then push into the current in a winsome and kind way. Many people who are not afraid to step into the cultural current with the gospel are not winsome or gentle, which makes a lot of people not want to jump in and be associated with “those people”. But we have to push in and show the gospel to be good news…if we truly believe it is.
Let me tell you my biggest place of fear that I have had to (and sometimes still have to continue to) work through. I like people to like me. I like to be viewed as nice, funny, friendly, and positive. I used to care about this so much that it got in the way of my evangelism. I feared being seen as close minded, pushy, stupid, and exclusive. As I prayed and continually asked God to make my fear of Him to increase and my fear of men to decrease, he answered my prayer.
When I start to feel any kind of fear I pause and ask myself the question, “Are you really going to care more about what people think about you than what God thinks about you?” Make a choice. When I do this I almost always choose God. God already approves of me as His child so I don’t have to fear what people think of me. When I care more about what others think of me I am essentially saying that God’s opinion is not enough. Soaking in this truth has had me do things I never thought I would ever do, like open air preaching in the middle of a college campus or performing spoken word in the middle the of a subway car in downtown Chicago. We must put to death the fear of man and submit ourselves to God.
I would suggest prayer and musical worship as a great preparation for evangelism. It helps me get my heart in the right posture before the loving redeemer because although, the question of fear is very real, we have to ultimately ask ourselves, who do we love? Perfect love cast out fear. We are perfectly loved and we should want to share of this love so others can be wrapped up in it as well. We are called to love God with all we are and love our neighbor as ourselves. How are you feeling today? Did you get all your meals and snacks? Did you get a shower? Did you make sure you were well taken care of? If you are like me, then your answer is yes. You and I do not have a hard time loving ourselves. We need to recommit ourselves to loving God more than ourselves and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Please don’t apply this by trying to comb your neighbor’s hair for them and brush their teeth the way you do your own, but do care enough about them to share the amazing news that God has made reconciliation with him possible.
It is good news. Do we believe it is good enough to be shared?