Evangelism

The second of the five things I am going to preach about is evangelism; sharing the good news, in other words. I would like you to seriously consider this question:

If following Jesus were to be outlawed in this country, would there be enough evidence of your Christianity to convict you?

According to the detective books my mother used to read, a conviction requires that three things are established: motive, means and opportunity. Motive is easy to misunderstand: of course, as Christians, we ought to share the good news of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19,20; 1 Corinthians 9:16) but that does not make it a chore, another thing to do on top of following Jesus. On the contrary, sharing good news is a joy (Isaiah 52:7,8; Luke 2:9-14): if I have some good news, I naturally want to share it and find it difficult to keep it to myself. So we do not have to worry about motivating ourselves to share the good news we have because the good news itself is our motive (1 Corinthians 9:17). If, on the other hand, we do not want to share the news of Jesus with others, that should make us ask ourselves whether we have really received the good news at all: If it is not worth sharing, is it really worth having? Do we have a motive for being Christians or are we just going through the motions?

The means to commit a crime are the things someone has which enable him or her to do it. Do we have anything that enables us to be Christians?  More on that when I talk about the Spirit in four weeks, because God the Holy Spirit is the main thing that enables us to follow Jesus (John 1:12; Romans 8:14); more also next week, when I talk about Scripture, because the bible was written and has always been read so that people can learn the truth about God and Jesus (Ezekiel 3:4,10,11; Luke 1:3,4; John 20:31; 21:24); more also in three weeks, when I talk about the church. All these things, of course, as well as our individual gifts, which enable us to be Christians, enable us to share the good news of Jesus (Mark 13:11), which is as we would expect if evangelism is a natural part of being a Christian.

People sometimes talk about the need to create an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. I do not think that is what we most need to do. I think what we need to do most is take the opportunities we have: conversations with friends and family, the post office queue, chances to help people in the name of Jesus (literally!), and so on. People should be able to know beyond a reasonable doubt that we follow Jesus, not just suspect it. Confess!

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