Reading John 7 today I kept noticing the theme of Jesus bringing a dividing line to the people he was with. They either believed in him or they didn’t. They either put their faith in him or they wanted him dead! It wasn’t really that extreme but often in John it feels that way. What is more, even his own brothers didn’t believe him. The opening verses of John 7 tell us they realized his ability to do miracles. And yet his own family didn’t believe he was the Messiah. Later we find out they had a change of heart (Acts 1:14).
As I was reading John 7 today I kept getting the feeling that the pressure is off. No more expectations of 100% effective evangelism in terms of getting 100% of lost people to become Christians. When we have those kind of expectations we are basically saying we think we can do a better job than Jesus did because even Jesus turned some people off! That is pretty arrogant. Put in that light we realize that effective evangelism for Jesus was not to soothe and placate and sugar coat everything to get 100% acceptance.
Effective evangelism for Jesus was that the truth was preached in love so that people could make a right judgment concerning who they believed him to be (John 7:24). If that is Jesus’ standard for effective evangelism shouldn’t it be ours as well? I wonder if more people would talk to their friends if they realized that in doing so they achieved success in the mission regardless of the response of the person.
In Mark 10, Jesus has a conversation with a really wealthy guy. At the end of their conversation, the guy leaves w/o doing what Jesus asked him to do.
And Jesus let him go — without chasing him down or bargaining with him.
He just set the truth out there and let the guy decide.
I was having a conversation last weekend w/ a friend of mine who said, “We’ve created a sinful model of evangelism. It’s based in anxiety — ours and theirs — and the Bible says clearly that we are to ‘be anxious for nothing’.”
The logic of his statement was so forceful — it was like he threw a glass of cold water in my face.
That’s some good stuff. More of us need reminded of this from time to time. Who would have thought we could combine evangelism and faith in God?
Good post, Matt.
My experience with churches has shown me that the problem today isn’t that people are rejecting the gospel so much as it’s that the gospel isn’t being shared in the first place.
How many times have I and others taught that bearing fruit meant baptizing !! SHAME !!
You have hit a home run with this one,.