Evangelical Guilt in Evangelism–and How John 3 Helps

Do you struggle with guilt related to evangelism?  Do you feel like you do very little as a Christian to “draw” lost people?  I sometimes struggle with this feeling–and sometimes, it’s justified.  It’s a very healthy thing to examine one’s evangelistic witness, and to push oneself out of one’s comfort zone (read: the evangelical church/parachurch bubble, oftentimes) into the pathways and patterns of lost people.

But it is also possible to carry the weight of the lostness of the world on your back.  If so, here’s a helpful text from John 3:20-21:

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

Sometimes, we can think that we are repelling lost people by living a God-glorifying life.  In fact, this may be true.  People don’t want to be around the light when they live in darkness.  They want to stay in the darkness.  They are justly ashamed.  They hate the light.

This doesn’t give us a permanent excuse for not evangelizing lost people, of course.  Just as Jesus did, we need to pray and go into the darkness, to be where lost people are, to do what we can such that they can’t help but confront their sin and the cross of Christ.

But with that said, this text does hugely help to relieve false guilt.  It shows us that, fundamentally, we’re not doing something wrong by living a holy life–and by extension, not having lost sinners approach us.  We’re doing what is right.  We are emulating Jesus (however imperfectly).  People are lost, and it is not because of us.  People are lost because of their sin.  Perhaps that takes some of the weight of our shoulders, freeing us like a ship shedding cargo to launch into the darkness and attempt the joy-giving task of evangelizing those who need most the One they hate most.

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By the way, BrianD’s blog often has a great bunch of links to read through.  Here are several that caught my eye:

  • BrianD

    Owen, thank you for kindly taking note of the Linkathon. I hope it’s a blessing to you and your readers.


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