I had lunch awhile ago with a close friend who recently became a Christian. We were talking about faith when she shared her discomfort with evangelism — specifically street evangelism.
“To be honest, I don’t like it when Christians evangelise to others. It’s rather pushy. I mean, if I were interested, I would ask and find out for myself,” she said.
As evangelism is close to my heart – I was surprised by what she said. But I knew that God was giving me an opportunity to clarify some of the doubts she had as a new believer.
Sadly, I believe that Christians who don’t want to be pushy are in the majority. Many offer various reasons for not wanting to share the gospel with others.
- “I’m not biblically competent”
- “I’m not good at talking to people”
- “I don’t want to be pushy and tarnish Christianity’s image”
- “I don’t want to sound preachy”
Put bluntly, you could say these reasons are excuses.
These reasons are self-focused. It’s about how I have reasons not to evangelise. It’s my image and pride above the urgency of the Great Commission. We agonise about how evangelism affects our friends’ views of us but we fail to see that we have made evangelism about us rather than about God.
I want to empathise with how “scary” evangelism can be at times. But we forget that people are saved by grace through faith. God is the one who convicts the hearts of people – we are simply his vessels (Ephesians 2:8-9).
When is evangelism glorifying to God – and when is it not?
Scripture tells us in James that our tongue is a double-edged sword. We use it to sing praises in worship – yet it is also able capable of condemning others (James 3:6-10). So we are exhorted to be careful with our words – to speak the truth in love.
When sharing Christ to others, we ought to remember that the gospel is likely foreign and new to them. Christian lingo is likely to confuse them. Terminologies that may be straightforward to us may not be so for them.
We must be tactful in our words and the way we convey beliefs. For instance, one way to hold a conversation with someone of a different faith, would be to ask her questions instead of stamping your opinion on that particular religion.
We might ask her a question such, “Why do you subscribe to these beliefs?” or something even less confrontational like, “What are some differences between your religion and mine?” Through exchanges like these, a discussion gets going, allowing you to truly understand your friend – with the likelihood he’d better understand you as well.
More often than not, non-believers tend to be closed off to the gospel due to bad experiences they’ve had with Christians rather than the gospel itself.
It might be a Christian classmate who swears or skips school. Or a pushy believer who’s offended them. The point is that experiences with hypocritical believers have made Christianity a turn off for them.
We must be discerning to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and know how to listen before responding. When we listen, we are better able to communicate the gospel to others. We become a gentle avenue for a biblical perspective of the world, and a better friend with whom one might wrestle over hard questions together.
Speak the truth in love, but make no mistake – the Gospel is offensive.
Even with the right heart and fervent prayer before reaching out to someone, you can’t please everyone. For all of our tact, there will be times when we offend others because God’s truth in itself is offensive to the world.
In John 6:35-66, Jesus was preaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Many of His followers had left because they could not accept what Jesus was saying, that He was the bread that came down from heaven – the Son of God.
John MacArthur writes: “If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offence to God; let them be offended for awhile.”
Speak the truth in love, but never water down the gospel to make it “acceptable” to those who hear it. Yes, the gospel is about God’s love and His Grace – how Jesus died for our sins. But we tend to forget that while the Gospel is about forgiveness – it’s also about repentance.
Romans 3:23 says that we have all fallen short. Not just you – me too. We all are sinners. But Christ died for us on the cross to redeem us from our sins – and was resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) on the third day!
The gospel is good news – it is miraculous love!
What is stopping you from sharing the gospel with others? The fear of judgement? The lack of confidence? The Most High God commands us to share His gospel.
So what can possibly stand against Him? What would you put before the Great Commission?