We’ve all been there…sweaty and nervous at the thought of witnessing to someone…and maybe having a difficult conversation. I’ve done it plenty often enough…I avoid difficult conversations like the plague sometimes…even with my wife, the person in this world I trust the most. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a difficult conversation…for example:
Wife: Who ate all the Wheat Thins?
Me: Hey look at the time…I have to go call someone about…something.
Making stuff up on the fly isn’t my strong suit. I have a feeling my wife can see through my distraction technique because of this lack of ability. Nonetheless I don’t like having difficult conversations with people.
But there is a fundamental problem with this avoidance of difficult conversations and that is that, as a Christian, I have a responsibility to have what can be a difficult conversation with people over and over again, that conversation is called witnessing. For some reason people don’t like for you to call them a sinner…grant it I don’t call people sinners, I point out that is what the Bible calls everyone who breaks God’s laws, nonetheless people don’t seem to like it when you point out that they have indeed broken God’s laws. I know I’m not the only Christian who has had this issue of not wanting to witness to someone because it’s a difficult conversation to have, or because I don’t know what to say or whatever excuse Christians have for not doing as they are called to do in Scripture.
Somewhere along the way Christians have gotten the idea into their head that instead of witnessing to someone they will just invite them to church instead, there is a lot less pressure in that conversation. (Until you have that awkward “I go to church” response from someone who clearly five seconds ago was acting like a heathen, but that’s a post for another time.) So, instead of doing the work of an evangelist and disciple-maker as Christians are called to do in Scripture, we decide that it is the churches job to evangelize the lost…and it is just up to us to invite them there…and if they don’t show up then that’s on them. The problem is it’s not the churches job to evangelize to the lost…it’s yours Christian. The churches job is to equip the saints, to make disciples and to be devoted to Christ and His Word. The great commission wasn’t given to an institution; it was given to the eleven disciples of Jesus.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
These are Jesus final words to us…these are His marching orders. But the attitude in most churches today is this:
“Pay someone else’s way to go to make disciples of all nations and occasionally, when I’m comfortable with the idea, invite someone to church.”
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be supporting career missionaries financially…I’m saying supporting career missionaries financially does not mean we have done the entirety our part in the Great Commission. Just as inviting someone to church doesn’t mean we’ve done our part in the great commission. Church is a strange and foreign place to the unsaved. The unsaved will not only feel out-of-place, they will be out-of-place. Light and darkness do not mix. It’s our job as Christians to be evangelizing the people we meet every day, help bring them to trust in Christ as their savior and THEN invite them to church.
I know it is a difficult conversation to have with someone, especially someone close to you. I know you fear the rejection of you and your message to them…and honestly some will. Consider Jesus words in John:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
We cannot pass up the chance to witness to someone just because of the fear of rejection; in fact we are blessed most by God when we are cursed most by men. Consider Jesus’ words in Luke:
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
Rejection and persecution are not fun and not comfortable. And though your motives in evangelism are sincere, those motives will be questioned by sinful men. But the thing is we know something that they are blind to, we know of God’s punishment for sin, His eternal punishment. We know the day is coming when he will pour out His righteous wrath on the wicked for their sins. The book of Jude says this:
“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
Having mercy on those who doubt doesn’t mean changing our message to make the sinner more comfortable, nor does it mean we protect our own feelings when we are rejected. Having mercy means the same thing as compassion here…and the compassionate thing to do is not to let someone go to hell.
Paul exhorts us in Romans:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
So I pose to you the same question I posed to my small group this past week. and a quote from one of my favorite authors David Platt. I think it’s an important question to think about and wrestle with…
With the reality of hell…why don’t more Christians live with more urgency to spread the gospel and see the lost trust Christ as savior?
“There are over 2 billion people in the world at this moment whose knowledge of God is only sufficient to damn them to hell.” ~David Platt, author of Radical.
I hope these thoughts trouble us and spur us to action instead of complacency.