“I believe that much of our evangelism is ineffective because we depend too much upon technique and strategy. Evangelism has slipped into the sales department. I am convinced that we must look at Jesus, and the quality of life he calls us to, as a model for what to believe and how to reach out to others.” Rebecca Manley Pippert, Out of the SaltShaker
That sharing the gospel has “slipped into the sales department” is a gut grabber to me and I hope it makes you stop and think too. Do people see our approach to sharing our faith as meeting a goal, furthering our agenda, or something we’re forced to do? If any of those is the case, it’s all too likely, they’re not seeing much of Jesus in us.
Jesus had a unique edge on us since he could see a person’s heart and know what they were thinking and feeling. He could call someone out as a hypocrite, and be right, because of his knowledge of the heart. We don’t have that ability and yet, I fear, people too often are on the receiving end of a less than Christ-like example when they interact with a Christian.
If you think loving your neighbor like Christ is an easy thing to do, I strongly urge you to rethink your conclusion. Love is hard! Our culture talks about married love as a 50-50 proposition but true love seems to be better described by a 100 to Zero ratio. When one is lying in a hospital, unable to do anything for their well being or demonstrate even the smallest act of love toward their spouse, the obligation of the other partner is not reduced in the least. One hundred percent love is still expected, even though nothing is being received in return.
And it’s that same type of love we’re supposed to have toward those who are without Christ. We share without getting any thanks; our offer of help is rejected because of their preconceived idea of Christians; assistance with a problem is accepted but never acknowledged…still love must be the motivating factor and visible reaction in our response.
So how do we ramp up the love? A good place to start is with Scripture. Check out the characteristics of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13, especially verses 4-7, and pick one that you least display. Then ask God to help you develop that character trait in your life. You can even use this process to show Jesus to your friends.
Tell some people you’ve started asking God to change you in the area you selected. Ask them to record, from 1 to 10 (1 = you never display the trait; 10= you always display the trait) where they see this characteristic in your life. Then in 3-6 months ask them to go through the activity again. Also let them know that if they have any questions about your experience, you’d be willing to share with them.
If you grow in Christ likeness during this improvement phase, it’s possible they’ll see it and be curious about how the change took place. And just like that, you get a chance to share God’s mercy and power in your life…and maybe even how He could do the same for them.