Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Dirty "E" Word

I've always hated the word evangelism. And witness. And testimony.

I promise I'm not a heathen. Or a really poor excuse for a Christian (at least I hope not). I am definitely NOT ashamed of Jesus. I'm not trying to hide my faith. Those words just rub me wrong.

I've had perfectly polite people knock on my door to talk to me about God and though I try to be polite back, I find myself feeling annoyed. I don't like the assumptions they've made about me, especially when they don't know me. Why do they assume I need something they have? Why do they assume I'm lacking? Why do they assume I need "saving?" Why have I been lumped into a group of "sinners" when we've never met?

So when I think about evangelism, this is what stirs in my gut. I don't want to do this to other people. I don't want to make them feel inferior or talk down to them. How is that respectful? Or loving? Is it necessary to divide people into "saved" and "unsaved" categories? Can't we love them without knowing their spiritual status?

Yet whenever evangelism is talked about in church, I feel uneasy. Am I doing it right? Am I sharing the gospel as I should? Am I proclaiming Christ? Am I ignoring the needs around me so others will think well of me? Am I big fat chicken? There must be a better way.

And lately, I'm seeing it.

I've had all kinds of people asking me about my upcoming trip to Uganda--people I know well, acquaintances, even eavesdropping strangers. They ask and I talk. I start off pretty calm and formal, but as I go on I can't help but get excited at how God has orchestrated this. I tell them of the "coincidences" which led me to believe God was asking me to go. I talk about how He's soothed my apprehensions and the miraculous way He's provided a TON of money. I even share how becoming a Christian was difficult for me because I was afraid God would send me to Africa for Jesus and how crazy it is He's doing it 35 years later. I am astounded at how interested people are, even people I don't know! Their eyes sparkle, and not just the ones I know to be Christians. They offer their own God stories. They ask questions. They say, "wow" and "cool" and "awesome." Some merely nod their heads in confusion, but that's okay too, because I've pointed them to God and His weird ways. Sharing what God's doing in my life engages them, piques their interest, stirs them to know more. Are they hearing that God gets personally involved in people's lives? Are they yearning for the same involvement in theirs? Will they go home and pray that God might move in their life too?

It shows me evangelism is nothing more than telling people how God is working in my life. It's talking about Him openly, honestly with the same enthusiasm you might have talking about your vacation or the close game or a new opportunity. It's assuming the other person will "get" it and if they don't, being willing to answer their questions. I don't have to "save" them. I shed light on who God is and let the Spirit work. I speak. I listen. I make myself available. GOD does the rest.

We don't have to be afraid of evangelism or witnessing or giving our testimony. All we have to do is be willing to openly share our faith stories and how God has shown Himself in every day life. We bridge the gap between religion and reality when we display a genuine relationship with Jesus, one that goes beyond the church doors or privacy of our home. When we share what God's done for us, we love others. We are a witness.

How do you view evangelism?

Photo Credit: Realistic Imaginations

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