“Evangelism” has become a dirty word to many of us. It conjures images of Bible-thumping extremists telling everyone how horrible they are and how they’ll go to hell when they die unless they think and believe just like them.
When the gospel gets limited to a get-out-of-hell-free card or a ticket to heaven, then evangelism and Christianity as a whole become completely distorted.
But, on the other hand, it is extremely important for us to share our faith with others, and to do it with our words. Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “preach the gospel and, if at all necessary, use words.” I love that quote but sometimes it can be a cop-out. The truth is, sometimes it is necessary to use words. We need to be able to articulate the particularity of our faith in Christ and help others see how radical this gospel really is. We need to be able to call out the evil we see in the world and offer an alternative way of seeing things. We need to speak hope into a hopeless world.
Evangelism has been hijacked by folks who arrogantly force their perspective onto others. But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can share our faith with a posture of listening—truly hearing from others and learning from their experience. We don’t have to threaten or harass, we can simply love.
I tell students, “I don’t want you to share Jesus, I want you to share your life… but Jesus should be your life.” If you truly love something, you’re excited to share it with others. If Jesus is not important or exciting to you, then don’t bother sharing. But if Christ is truly the center of your life, then conversations about him shouldn’t be nearly as awkward or forced as we have allowed them to become. Make Christ the center of your life… start there… then share it with the world.