On Monday I visited one of our small groups and left incredibly encouraged. At the end of the night we all answered this question about the last series: "What was your greatest takeaway?"
During Sunday's sermon, I mentioned that I thought this was a challenging series for all of us, but after sitting in on this group we all concluded that the 12 weeks (plus the 12 weeks of small group discussion) were really necessary to impress the Great Commission upon our minds. So, hopefully, we're all approaching each day on the lookout for what God is doing.
That being said, one of the things I wished I would have overemphasized is how evangelism is defined. Evangelism is a trigger word for many people, bringing to mind negative stereotypes of aggressive and overbearing Christians walking up to people on the street and demanding an answer to the question, "If you were to die today do you know where you would spend eternity?"
Let's get that idea out of our heads. "Evangelism is sharing," as someone at Monday's small group put it. And it is. Evangelism is sharing your vulnerabilities. It's sharing your living room. It's sharing a meal. It's sharing your life with another human being who doesn't happen to believe in Christ at the moment.
The thing that was encouraging about Monday's group is that so many of them are doing exactly that with friends, relatives and neighbors.
So, evangelism is simply sharing yourself with those who don't believe at the moment.
Second, it was encouraging to hear that the "come and see" invitation works. Someone shared about how they invited a couple to Orphan Sunday via text and received the immediate reply: "We'll be there." And they came. "Come and see" works.
Finally, I came across an encouraging verse this morning regarding "sharing" our lives. It's in the Gospel of John, chapter 20, where Jesus is praying for the present and future church. But He also prays for unbelievers in His prayer. And He prays for us sharing with unbelievers. Listen to how Jesus prayed for both believers and unbelievers:
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
Jesus was praying for the church, but He wasn't praying for the church only. He also prayed "for those who will believe" in Him through our sharing with them. That's amazing. He didn't pray for people who might believe. He prayed for people "who will believe."
Life feels incredibly dark sometimes. But there are people out there who are waiting. God has them in mind. And they will believe.
All we have to do is share ourselves. And because Christ is central to our lives, the gospel becomes a natural conversation, not a forced presentation.
Meeting with my nonChristian friend last night, he talked about some of his negative encounters with Christians. His main point was that it seemed they forgot he was also a human being. His encounters were negative because they treated him like a project.
It's a simple but profound reminder -- we are simply human beings sharing with other human beings, who are, after all, human beings Jesus has prayed for.