It’s always a little awkward coming back to a blog after a prolonged absence. I won’t waste your time with all kinds of excuses except that sometimes life just needs to be lived, and the usual therapeutic writing isn’t the best outlet. My life is full, and beautiful, and I want to do better at documenting some of those blessings.
I’m back to writing, and back to hopefully keeping up the blog a little better, starting with what’s on my heart today in this blog post: I’ve been thinking about this thing called evangelism lately. I’m sure many of you have heard of Ray Comfort and have maybe even tried some of his methods. I love watching some of his videos on youtube and seeing how he reaches out and cares about people and the Truth of the Gospel.But I’ve also been thinking about the ways that we as a Church reach out to those around us. It tends to be one of two things:
1. We jump on the bandwagon of “my life is a witness; therefore my life does the talking,” and steer clear of getting into uncomfortable situations or conversations with non-believers.
2. We ask everyone we meet whether or not they will be able to enter heaven if they die tonight.
These are definitely two extremes. Sometimes we’re some of both, and sometimes we float around between the two, trying to find a happy medium. Neither one of them is all bad, but are they all what Jesus had in mind when He told us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel?
The thing that strikes me the most about the two options above is that they can both tend towards self-protection. If I believe that my life is a witness and it requires no speaking of truth, then I can comfortably be friends with everyone, agree with everything they say, (or at least pretend to) and everything is hunky-dory. Or, if I go around preaching truth to whoever listens, I can say what I came to say whether someone is ready to hear it or not, and then go on my merry way without getting too involved in their lives. I can be satisfied because I have now done my job/responsibility—the rest is up to God.
Nothing sacrilegious here, right? But what if we’re missing something crucial?
What could it look like if we as a church would be willing to pour our lives out for those around us? To walk alongside of those whom God has brought into our lives and be involved in living out the Gospel? Do we even know what that looks like?
I’m amazed at how much I want my life to look like a nice package, and keep it that way. I get frustrated when one of the girls calls and wants me to take them to the doctor, because I was planning to have a nice, relaxing evening at home. Oh, I care, and I love them to death. But I want to love on my terms, and according to my nicely laid out plans. If I can think ahead and plan an evening to spend with them, then I feel good. But when they come knocking at my door when I’m already in my pj’s, then it’s a different story.
Love isn’t like that. I think about Jesus’ life and ministry, and it’s SO evident that He lived to pour out His life into the lives of others. He spent pretty much all of his time with those disciples who most of the time didn’t even get it, and He loved them, and kept patiently teaching them, and just did life with them. I notice that while He did get away sometimes to be with God, He didn’t just plan random coffee dates with the disciples and then call it good. He got involved in every way.
Why does that scare me to death? Because relationships are hard. And getting involved in people’s lives takes some deep commitment. It’s one thing to hang out. It’s another thing to get into the nitty-gritty of life—the joys and the deep, deep pains, where we have no answers. Am I willing to go to vulnerable places in someones life where I don’t have all of the answers?
How much am I willing to risk when it means entering into the stories of those around me? All around, people are inwardly weeping, longing for someone to care enough to not only listen, but imagine with them what redemption, hope, and healing can look like. But for the most part, we stick to the safe places like the weather, sports, and the latest sale at Target. We want safe, and yet we all long for more.
“Incarnate love seeks out the lost and says little, then gets the best room and board money can buy and tends to the care of the wounded. Shouldn’t that be the redeemed heart’s response to the sexually and physically abused, the raped, the battered, the homeless, the neglected?” – Allendar
What people are looking for is genuine, unconditional love—not the kind that is trying to sell the Gospel and get them to believe so that they can say they’ve won souls, but the kind that is living the Gospel and passionately calling others to redemption and healing through Christ. This person knows it because they’ve experienced it, and their lives are an open invitation to others to come and drink deeply of that kind of love that can only come through Christ.
What can be extremely powerful is when the stories of our lives intersect as we all wrestle with the real questions of life—pain and suffering, meaning and human dignity—and it leads us together to the foot of the Cross.
Who is willing to live that kind of sacrifice? It’s not easy, and many times we will mess up. But then, that’s the beauty of redemption, isn’t it?