Here is a second, and last, post from my student David Hull who has been in Kansas City this summer doing evangelism.
What a summer! God has stretched me in immeasurable ways through my time sharing the gospel on the streets, and I know that apart from your prayers and encouragement I might have turned back.
I wanted to share with you today one final insight about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with people, and I hope it encourages you.
Scripture of the Day:
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. –2 Cor. 4:1-5
Quote of the Day:
Love is not blind; it simply enables one to see things others fail to see. –Anonymous
Insight for the Day:
This summer I have had the opportunity to view many different evangelism styles: servant evangelism, door-to-door, street preaching, one on one evangelism, survey evangelism, and prophetic evangelism.
One of the things that has bothered me throughout is the heavy handed way in which the Law is used to seek to bring conviction against “sinners”, more of a fire and brimstone approach, where the gospel is presented as the escape from hell. This approach in its essence makes my spirit cringe, and in my opinion represents spiritual immaturity and a performance mentality that is more focused on getting “someone saved” than accurately revealing Jesus Christ to the world.
I began thinking about why I love Jesus, and why I am willing to give over my whole life to follow Him. It would be good for all of us to meditate on what the answer to that question is for our own lives, because I am fully convinced that it is the source of all whole-hearted evangelism. In my opinion, the Holy Spirit is already at work across the earth bringing conviction for sin according to the law of God written on our hearts. I didn’t need someone to come up and bash me with the Bible and tell me what a horrible, rebellious sinner I was or that I was destined for hell. I already knew it, because the Holy Spirit was bringing conviction within me of my unbelief and sin.
On the outside I looked like a confident young man, but underneath I was struggling with deep shame, feelings of worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, and a gaping abyss of hopelessness. I knew that the best of my wisdom had led me to failure after failure, I felt insufficient as a man and that my life was not worth living. By the time I ended up in the hospital dying of a drug overdose, I felt as if there was no longer any reason to live because I could not change. I was a consummate failure, I was living a double life, and that there was no possible way that anyone would want me.
It was at the moment when I arrived at the end of the line, despairing of life itself, that Jesus extended to me His hand and said, “I choose you, I want you to be with me where I am.” Friends, it was the extravagance of His mercy, grace, and love that won my heart, not the fear of hell. The quote above moves me, “Love is not blind; it simply enables one to see what others fail to see.” Was Jesus blind to my sin? Absolutely not, but He could look beyond my sin because He had already paid the highest price on the cross for my forgiveness and He was able to call forth the image of God from within me.
What I learned this summer is that it does not take a man or woman of God to call out the dirt in someone else’s life, but it DOES take a man or woman of God to look beyond the dirt and to call forth the gold from within a person. The world and the devil tag team a person throughout their entire lives declaring their unworthiness: how they are not smart/pretty/strong/successful/competent enough. Most people walking around are living double lives, with a strong facade presented to the world protecting a quivering inside that is terrified of rejection/abandonment or failure and is burdened with shame. When we come with a message that is not gospel (good news), when the message we bring is not one of hope, encouragement, love, life, and promise but rather one of fear and condemnation we simply crush to the ground someone who has been struggling their entire lives to throw off the boot of the devil which has been pressing down on the back of their neck.
The most powerful evangelism I have seen this summer has been when someone is approached in love, when destiny and purpose are spoken over their lives, when their gifts are affirmed, and the love of God is declared to them apart from anything they can do. When a vision of the kingdom of God is rightly presented, the veil of shame that the god of this world has thrown over people is ripped back and the beauty of Jesus is truly revealed. Therein lies the power of the cross. God Almighty knew that we were too weak to save ourselves, that our wisdom repeatedly leads to failure, and that many of us are mindlessly just seeking to finish another day. At the end of our rope, Jesus extends His hand with gentleness and says, “I choose you, I want you with me where I am. Even though no one else will, I choose you.” That is gospel. He wants the broken and downtrodden, the discontent and the depressed, the failures and the freaks… and He will reveal through the power of the Holy Spirit the treasures that they truly are.
Do I believe that people need to repent in order to receive forgiveness for their sins? Absolutely! But perhaps, if you show them beauty instead of ugliness, truth instead of falsehood, life instead of death, love instead of hatred, joy instead of sorrow, and peace instead of chaos… which is essentially painting with technicolor brushstrokes a vision of the eternal kingdom of God; then a living hope for transformation is birthed within their hearts through the Holy Spirit. All of a sudden the conviction that there is something worth believing in manifests, something more real than what we see, and then repentance can be birthed that will leave no regrets. Human beings will always go farther for love than they will for fear.
Too often we focus on sin management, which is only one dimension of the gospel, and we forget to proclaim the kingdom of God which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit! Offer people the kingdom and they will repent, because all of a sudden they behold that which they were created for, that which they have been longing for their entire lives, the answer to the God sized void within them which they have been feeding with illicit pleasures. Reveal the kingdom and the glory of Jesus Christ, and the illicit pleasures will be revealed as the illusions and frauds they are! People need to behold the true beauty of the cross and be impacted by the kingdom of God in order to be called to live according to the light of eternity!
I hope that this message bears witness in your spirits. As always, I invite comments or questions, as well as prayer requests. I invite you to search you heart for the reason why you love Jesus….it is from this place that the light of the gospel will spring forth into a dark and hopeless world.
Grace and peace,