It may come as a surprise to you that, the President of a ministry called Dare 2 Share, hates evangelism. But I do. Let me tell you why.
Evangelism forces me to decide whether or not I believe in Jesus enough to tell someone else that he is the only way into God’s favor. It puts me in the awkward position of telling a fellow human being that the core of what they believe about salvation is wrong, what the Bible says is right and that they need to repent (i.e. “change their minds”)if they expect to make it into heaven. Say it twice or say it nice and it still stings.
Evangelism makes my neighbors whisper about me and strangers laugh at me. It makes family members, who have yet to trust in Christ, roll their eyes when I engage them about the claims of Jesus at family reunions (aka “funerals” or “weddings.”) Evangelism makes for awkward moments everywhere I go.
To be honest it would be much easier just to preach the gospel with my life and leave the words out of it. Wordless evangelism doesn’t spark outrage. It doesn’t spark arguments. It doesn’t spark anything. No discussion. No faith. No transformation.
Maybe I should ditch evangelism completely and just live a good life. I could seek to eradicate poverty, stop human trafficking or adopt orphans. Nobody will get mad at me then. Most people would probably think that I’m pretty cool. And, to be totally truthful, that’s what I want, to be cool and accepted, not mocked and rejected.
Who wants to be marginalized? Who wants to be persecuted? Who wants to come off as a stark raving lunatic?
Actually, who wants to be treated like the early disciples? Sure they took care of orphans and widows (very cool!) but they evangelized everyone they met (not so cool!) These Christians just wouldn’t shut up. In the midst of all their service to the poor they passionately proclaimed to them, and to everyone else who would listen, that this wood-working rabbi named Jesus was the exclusive way to God. As a result they were crucified upside down, beheaded right side up and gutted inside out.
I don’t want to take a punch for Jesus. Heck, I don’t even want to be a punch line on his behalf. I don’t like the feelings of shame that come from preaching the Name of Jesus Christ. Yeah, yeah, I know that 2 Timothy 3:12 promises that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” And I know that this persecution erupts from declaring that “Jesus is Lord” to a scoffing world. But there has got to be another way. Right?
After all doesn’t Peter sound kind of arrogant when he declares in Acts 4:13 that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”? The gall of that chief disciple of Jesus who was given the keys to the kingdom by the King of kings himself! The arrogance of that leader of the revolution that was the early New Testament church!
Yes, I hate evangelism. I don’t like at all what it does to me. It puts me smack dab into a camp of Christians that are sure of what they believe and confident in what they proclaim. It puts me in the crosshairs of Satan, the world and the too-cool-for-the-old-school Christians.
But, on the other hand, maybe this was what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:11-12 in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Okay, maybe I don’t hate evangelism. Or maybe it’s the old me (the one before I met Jesus) who hates it. But, as I think about it, getting mocked or marginalized for the sake of Jesus isn’t nearly as bad as getting crucified for crimes you didn’t commit.