Summary: A practical look at relational evangelism that frees people to share their faith without going through a total personality change.
Matthew 5:12-14 April 28, 2002
God Can Use You to Draw People To Him.
Last week I talked about God’s heart for the lost: how God loves us desperately and wants to be in relationship with us, how people are spiritually lost, and how they need Jesus. We can know all that, but still have a very difficult time sharing our faith with our friends
A few years ago, Don Posterski wrote a little book called “Why am I afraid to tell you I’m a Christian?” And that is the question I’d like you to ponder now: “Why are we afraid to tell people about our faith?” Talk about this with the person beside you?
What did you come up with?
There are some professions in our society that have negative reputations, when we hear about a used car salesman, or politicians, or insurance sales people or Lawyer, we often have a picture that comes to our mind.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word evangelist, or evangelism?
Images of Evangelists
– negative: Obnoxious, pushy, money-grabing, insensitive, self centred, big hair, bad suits…
- positive: Extroverted, Billy Graham, committed, bold, outgoing, articulate, concerned for the salvation of others…
Our negative images of Evangelism can be a big obstacle.
We do not have to become pushy or obnoxious for the sake of the Gospel!
Our positive images can be a less obvious obstacle, but an obstacle all the same.
We might say “I could never be Billy Graham” – well, not likely. But there are probably many people in our circle of influence who could not even relate to Billy Graham, but they do relate to us!
The point is that, in order to be effective in reaching people for Jesus, we do not have to become something odd that we do not want to be. Nor do we have to become something great that we may never be.
Rather, we can be ourselves. God knew what He was doing when He made you and me. He gave you the personality he wanted you to have, and he wants to use it to spiritually impact those around you.
What are we called to in sharing our faith?
If we are called to evangelism, what is that evangelism supposed to look like?
Effective evangelism flows out of a genuine, living relationship with Christ where His love for the lost people passes through us to others. You may have heard it said that “You are the only Bible that some people will read.” This is why our lives must reflect our message, if we are people who don’t reflect the fruit of the Spirit to some extent (“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” – Galatians 5:22-23) then our light is pretty dim. The reality of our faith is demonstrated by a life that has been noticeably marked by God’s love and leadership.
Jesus said that as we “abide in Him” we will “bear much fruit” (john 15:5)
Joe Aldrich said in his book, Lifestyle Evangelism, that “Christians are to be good news before they share the good news”
St Francis of Assisi said “Always preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words.”
The verses that we began with says Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven
Instead of trying to be something we are not, Relational evangelism reflects our own personality and design. It fits who we are! This puts others at ease and gives them the assurance that what we have is real and worth looking into.
If we have a personality change or a change in vocabulary or accent as soon as we begin to talk about spiritual matters with someone, its hard to believe that what we have is real. God uses the Personality and the gifts that he has given each of us to draw people to him.
Peter was a confrontational guy, and so his evangelism was confrontational.
Paul was an intellectual guy, and so his evangelism was intellectual
The blind man in John 9, on the other hand was not a great theologian, so he just told others what Jesus did for him.
Matthew liked to throw parties, so when he wanted his friends to meet Jesus, he threw a party.
Andrew wasn’t the most verbal person, but when he meets Jesus, he runs to his brother Simon and says, “You’ve got to see this guy!” Some of us may not be the most articulate, but we are really good at inviting others along.
Tabitha in Acts 9 had a serving style of evangelism, so much so that when she died, all the widows were crying out and showing peter the clothes she has made for them. God raised her from the dead through Peter!