And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." — Mark 16.15
Consider this straightforward call of Jesus to His disciples.
Our call is still the same: to show and tell people about Jesus.
In the church we call this evangelism.
And this is a pretty easy call to understand, but consider the following stats:
- 85% of church attenders agree that they have a responsibility to share the gospel with unbelievers while only 25% actually do so
- 61% of evangelicals have not shared their faith last year
Ask Yourself This:
Why do you think there is a gap between the people that understand the call of evangelism yet so few people do?
Is evangelism part of your daily life? Why or why not?
What’s the hardest thing about evangelism for you?
What happens is that evangelism becomes "the E word” in the church, a dirty word, so to speak, because it’s something we know we are called to do and yet we don't. To a degree, it's not popular idea, this sharing of the Gospel. We think it has to be tricky or hard or we have to be intrusive in order to do it right. So it becomes something we avoid.
I think one main reason why is because we often fail to see what evangelism is actually all about.
In Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells us what evangelism is about, as he explains to a group of people what it means to be saved:
For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. — Matthew 18.11 (NASB)
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. — Luke 19.10 (NIV)
A funny thing happens here as the English translates in Luke "to save the lost." We tend to conclude that "the lost" refers to lost people. Yet the Greek doesn’t actually says anything about people. Jesus literally says he came to save “that” which was lost (as in Matthew.) Because the verse about what Jesus came to do talks not that he came to save you and me who are lost, but that he came to save "that" which was lost is important. “That” is a single thing, right? That one thing that was lost.
It brings up a good question—a really, really good question:
WHAT WAS LOST?
Because if Jesus Himself came to save that, then that thing should be the focus of our evangelism.
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." — Genesis 1.26
Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4.7-8
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. — John 17.3
“That” which was lost is simply love.
Genesis 1 explains that we are created in God’s imagine both male and female. We were created to be like God. And John explains that
God is love. We were created to be in communion with God, with love, and to be love for other people. When sin entered the world, it created chaos and it broke that love.
We struggle to love each other; we struggle to find that love. And yet we all desire it, because it’s how we were created. The reason Christ came is to seek and save that thing, that singular thing lost in our humanity. It’s the love that starts with a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Ask Yourself This:
In what ways do you see love lost in the world around us?
In what ways do people look for love or acceptance?
Why does our search for love, acceptance always come up short?
We look for love through a variety of people and things. Some people look to find that in relationships, in popularity, in the right guy or girl; some people look to accolades and having people think they are great through what they achieve; some people look to it in money and things, hoping that will bring fulfillment to their souls. Some will look to substances or things that bring them some sort of temporary pleasure.
We do a lot of things to draw identity, to find reputation, for accolade or prestige or notoriety. To be noticed.
TO FIND LOVE
But Jesus came to pay the price of sin and restore love in this world. He is all we need. He came to save “that which was lost.”
Why is it then that when we talk about evangelism, we too often lose sight of love? For most people, we think that the main message of evangelism is that Christ came because we’re sinners, and we need to save sinners and get them to heaven. Of course there is truth in this. But the problem with this evangelistic focus is that it's so impersonal. It fails to see the stories of people desperate for love.
Evangelism isn’t simply about getting people to pray a prayer that gets them into Heaven. Because then you just have people who live a whole life with an impersonal God. You can confess and go to Heaven, yet never really understand what it’s like to be loved and to become love, to be transformed by His Grace. The struggle with evangelism is we never talk about the stories of people, the brokenness of people, the people in need.
The reason we have a conflict in people that know they are called to evangelize yet don't actually do it is because our hearts aren’t moved; we never talk about the truth of what was lost.
Instead of evangelism being about helping people understand the love of God, it becomes a religious activity, or something we need to do. There are people who desperately need to experience grace and love. And they are looking for it in all sorts of ways. Evangelism is simply a call to journey and listen and be that source of love, so people understand their worth and value as God’s children. The first church did this—they cared and showed love no matter what, and shared who God was and how He loved them.
And the church exploded, because people everywhere are desperate for this.
What does it look like for you to evangelize “that which was lost”? How is that
different from what you were taught about evangelism?
Who is the person in your life that you know needs God’s love? What does it look
like for you to evangelize to them?
How can you show love and be the love of Christ this week?