In the previous post, we see that a Christian, by definition, is someone who has heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, believe in it, and has begun to live a new life in light of this truth. A Christian is so gripped by God’s amazing grace in this great news, and by logical consequence, cannot help but tell others as they go. When Jesus gave us the mandate to make disciples of all nations, He did not ask us to be smart about it. He simply asked us to share the great news and to watch people’s lives change as they receive the gospel. The act of telling, proclaiming, or preaching this great news is what Christians call ‘Evangelizing’ which simply means making known this news to others.
It does sound simple if it is put that way. However, evangelism is perhaps one thing that Christians dread doing. It is not common to find a Christian that share their faith on a regular basis. There are many reasons given. In the following posts, we will look at a few of them and dissect them. I do hope that as a result, all of us are more motivated to get (or get back) into evangelism. This is the first reason (not in any particular order, except as they pop up in my head).
1. “It is more important to love and to do good.”
I agree that it is important to love and to do good. Brennan Manning, the author of The Ragamuffin Gospel said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.” The world is weary of those who claim to know and believe the Good News, but their lives are such bad news to this world. They talk about Jesus who loves, but they don’t love. They talk about Jesus who dies for their sins, but they don’t even lift a finger to help others. They talk about Jesus who forgives, but they are bitter and they complain a lot. They talk about Jesus who loves sinners, but they avoid people who are not like them. By the way, when I said ‘they’ I am quite certain that I am one of ‘they’ too.
Therefore, many well-meaning Christians try to reverse this by saying that what we need is to just love others and be a good witness in the world, with hope that they can see Jesus through our good deeds. Some even quote St. Francis of Assisi who is famously known for his word: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
However, although I agree that good deeds are important, I don’t agree that it is more important to love and to do good. Here are a few reasons.
Secondly, the gospel is Good News. It is inherently news. No matter how much good deeds you do, if the news is not told, nobody can get the news.
Say for example, a good friend of mine has decided to pay off my mortgage (if that’s you, I’d love to hear from you). That’s good news. As a result of being liberated from this debt, I am able to spend my money for other things. I live more freely. I am not stressed out financially. This will definitely affect my attitude towards work and money. Plus, because of his generosity, I become more generous to others.
However, the problem is this. No matter how much this news affects my life, nobody can decipher from my actions that someone has actually paid off my mortgage.
The Good News of Jesus Christ can be likened to Him paying off my debt, except we are not talking about mortgage, but rather our sin and death. The effects would be similar to the above except that they should be much more. If I suddenly become more forgiving, more loving, more caring, and more generous, without verbal declaration, nobody can decipher from my good works that Jesus has actually paid off my sins.
Thirdly, to make matters worse, what follows could happen. The Good News of Jesus Christ should result in us and others praising God for what Jesus has done for us. The Gospel should bring glory to God. All credits are due Him. However, if our lives are changed but we don’t declare this Good News to others, guess who gets the glory? When someone sees you being very loving and generous, if they don’t know anything about Jesus, guess what will they say? “Praise God”? No way. They would say, “Wow, you are such a good person. I wish everyone were like you.” The glory goes to you, not Jesus.
Furthermore, fourthly, there is no way they will consider Jesus at all. At most, they will think that they should try harder to be good, which is very much contrary to the gospel. The gospel is meant to call people to stop trying harder and to trust in Jesus’ completed work on the cross. By us doing good without the verbal declaration of the gospel, people would end up trying harder with their might to be good to imitate you. In the end, this pushes people even to either self-depression (because they cannot do it) or pride (when they think they can do it), neither of them is godly.
So, as a conclusion, let me emphasise again. I agree that it is very important to love and to do good. That should be the natural evidence that our heart has been changed by the gospel. However, to love and to do good is not enough. Evangelism is not about loving and doing good.
Paul wrote this in Romans 10:14,
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
Evangelism is essentially proclaiming the good news. Without proclamation, it is not evangelism. However, your good and life-giving deeds should accompany your proclamation because they should validate your message. Both has to come together.
“But Sandy, it’s easier to just do good and to love hoping that one day somehow they would recognise the gospel. Plus, preaching the good news might offend people, and we are afraid that we might lose a friend.” I do sympathise with that, and I do feel that too most times. However, this should not be the case if evangelism is done well. I will turn to this at the next post.
- I am not Ashamed of the Gospel, am I? (sandycitro.wordpress.com)
- Gospel Integrity: Preaching the Gospel and Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel (transformationtheology.wordpress.com)
- Is that the Gospel I see?