He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”Mark 16:15, NIV
I think we can all agree that evangelism, or witnessing to others about Christ, is one of the core duties of a believer.
The bible calls this, The Great Commission, as recorded in Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:18-20 and Luke 24:46-47.
But how many of us actively spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the rest of our community? Do we censor ourselves around our co-workers and non-Christian friends for the sake of their comfort?
A few weeks ago I was talking to one of the parents at my sons swim practice. She was venting to me about one of the new instructors at the YMCA.
According to her the lady was former military, which made her a bit rough around the edges. Plus she didn’t like the music she played during the class.
I casually mentioned that my father is pastor (yes, I’m a pk), but he is also former military, which makes his job as a pastor difficult at times. Military people in leadership positions can often come off as too direct and offensive when leading civilians.
I assured her that the new instructor would get the hang of interacting with civilians as time went on.
Little did I know that this brief exchange would lead down a new path one I was not expecting.
I was swiftly assured that one of this woman’s many problems was that she was in fact a pastor’s wife, which made her “very religious”.
In her experience religious people are the worst. Her sister was very religious, always sharing scriptures and what not. Her sister got on her nerves.
As a Christian, I was somewhat offended and taken aback by this woman’s comments. However, at the same time, I could see her point of view.
I think everybody knows or has met that “ very religious” person or “crazy” church lady that we all try to duck and hide from.
But are these people really so bad? After all they are actively sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the rest of the world.
How often do you (myself included) share the gospel with those around you? Are we vocal about our faith or do we censor ourselves around friends and family for fear of alienating them?
Should we be like the crazy church lady when it comes to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let’s take a closer look at this issue.
Following the Great Commission
As a Christian I often find myself torn on how to interact with nonbelievers or people of a different faith.
It’s easy for me to talk about my faith and share scriptures with other believers, but with strangers, I would say that my efforts are less than stellar.
It would seem that I’m not the only person out there that struggles with this issue.
According to a report entitled, Reviving Evangelism, 47 percent of Christian Millennial’s believe that it is wrong to share their faith with others.
47% of Christian Millennial’s believe it is wrong to share their faith with other people.Reviving Evangelism
Despite the fact that 86% of Christian Millennial’s feel that they can answer questions about their faith, 73% say they are gifted at sharing their faith, and 96% of them believe that witnessing about Jesus is part of their faith. (You can find a part of that report here).
While I’m not a Millennial, they are not the only generation of Christians that have problem sharing their faith.
The problem with the belief that evangelism is wrong, is that it is in direct conflict with scripture.
The Apostle Paul asks these important questions, ”How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? (Rom 10:14, CEV).”
Based on the study Millennial Christians believe evangelism is wrong for the following reasons:
- They are more aware of the cultural climate towards spiritual conversations.
- They believe that people today are more likely to be offended if they share their faith.
What does scripture say about how we should deal with cultural sensitivity and offense.
Dealing With The Culture
Since the time of Christ, there has been opposition to the preaching of the Gospel. The Pharisees and Sadducees sought to kill Jesus and eventually crucified him. Afterward, they sought to kill and persecute the early members of the church.
What was so wrong with the message of Christ? It was counter-cultural. Everything Jesus stood for and preached about went against the cultural norms proposed by the religious leaders.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:9, “ “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
The current cultural climate in America is one of acceptance and tolerance for almost anything and everything. That is where sharing the gospel can cause conflict between Christians and their non-Christian peers.
Unlike other countries where Christians are and can be persecuted for their beliefs with physical harm, imprisonment and other social injustices. Persecution in the US takes a different form.
While we are not imprisoned or killed for our beliefs we are often ostracized from our close family, friends, and co-workers.
You know that crazy church lady that we were talking about earlier. The one we avoid. (ouch)
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household (Matt 10:33-36, KJV).
As Christians, we are not called to just go along with whatever the culture declares right and just. Everything we do should be balanced and tested against the word of God.
That means that there are parts of our faith that will make us unpopular with the world around us.
In a culture where you are expected to accept the status quo as true and accurate or else be branded as a bigot or intolerant it can be hard to stand on your faith.
However, the only way to stand against the culture is to continue to stand on your faith and your beliefs as Christ did.
Which means that our faith will cause us to be persecuted and will cause us to lose friends and family.
Dealing With Not Wanting to Offend Others
…but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.1 Peter 2: 7-8
All Christians need to understand that the gospel of Christ is offensive to those that do not believe. The only way you can not offend someone with the gospel is to not share it.
This is just what the enemy wants is for us to be silent about our faith because we don’t want to upset or disagree with someone.
This is the exact reason why the “overly religious” Christian is treated with such disdain by non-Christians and even fellow believers.
Could it be that being around those people causes us to be convicted because we aren’t sharing our faith enough?
Have you ever stopped to think about how often the world freely and often offends Christianity? Yet, we remain silent because we don’t want to offend those around us.
We should not be afraid of offending people. Because that is going to happen. What we should instead be focusing on is the way we share the gospel with those around us.
How We Should Evangelize
We know that the gospel is going to be offensive to those that don’t believe.
While this may be true, that doesn’t mean that we have to present the gospel of Christ in an offensive manner.
The reason why most people run from the “crazy” church lady is because of the way they share the gospel.
Even though their intentions are well meaning they often come off as rude, preachy, and unauthentic to other people.
Instead when we evangelize we should strive to do the following:
1. Be Kind and Respectful
We should follow Peter’s advice.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…(1 Peter 3:15,NIV).
We should be able to present the gospel of Christ with humility, gentleness and respect. Not with condemnation and self-righteousness.
When the religious leaders brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus he did not yell at or berate her. Instead, he forgave her of her sins and told her to sin no more (John 8: 1-11).
When you are acting like a jerk or snob nobody wants to listen to what you have to say.
2. Don’t Argue With People
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful ( 2 Tim 2: 23-24, NIV).
As I stated earlier the gospel is offensive and many of the moral standards taught in the bible go against the cultural norms. There are times when you will run into people that will challenge and attack your faith.
If you can not defend the gospel in a calm and respectful manner, then walk away from the conversation. This allows you to maintain your integrity and ability to try to witness to this person again.
3. Be Real and Authentic
You don’t have to act super spiritual to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with non-Christians. The best way to share the gospel with someone is to share your own testimony with them. This makes you real and relatable.
Jesus, even though he didn’t sin, was still able to relate to his disciples and the people that followed him because he knew the struggles we as humans faced. His life here on earth may have been a sinless one, but it was not without hardship.
4. Keep It Simple
Don’t try to complicate the message of the cross. Keep it simple. Now is not the time to give a lesson on theology. Start with Christ and end with Christ. Cover the who, what, when, where and why of the Gospel.
5. Have Compassion & Patience
As we grow older and mature in our faith we can often fall into selective amnesia about our past life before Christ. This can lead us to be impatient and our compassion towards the unbeliever begins to wane.
We are called to care for our fellow man whether they come to accept Christ or not. Jesus had compassion on the crowd of 5000 people that had come from far and wide to hear him speak.
I can guarantee you that there were people in the crowd that were not his disciples and had no desire to become his disciple. I’m sure their were a few religious leaders hiding in the crowd.
But Jesus took compassion on the crowd regardless of who was in it. He took 2 little fish and 5 loaves of bread and feed them all.
Remember we were all once sinners. Someone had to have compassion and patience with us. We should extend it others as well.
If you are looking for tips on how to share the gospel without being offensive you can read this article .
Personally, I think most of us don’t share the gospel because we are afraid to be classified as the “crazy” church lady or that super religious friend that doesn’t get invited to anything.
But it seems like maybe the “crazy” church lady or that religious friend is exactly who we should be. Just the kinder, gentler, and more compassionate version.
I’m not saying that you have to quote scriptures every 5 minutes or that every conversation that we have should be about Christ.
If he truly is our Lord and Savior and we are really grateful for all he has done for us we shouldn’t be afraid to share what he’s done for us with the world around us.
When you eat at a great restaurant you gladly tell your friends, family, and even strangers about it. We should take that same attitude with us about Christ.
He is depending on us to go out and share the gospel with the whole world.
How do you feel about evangelism? Do you know any “crazy” church ladies or gentlemen? Have your feelings or beliefs on evangelism changed? Please share your stories with me in the comment section.
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Until Next Time,
The Crafty Afro