I have often been perplexed by the word “evangelism” . By definition, it is “the practice of spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness”. In the course I attended recently, I listened attentively, took copious notes and went home to review and meditate on my notes, handouts in preparation for the final session. I like to share the heavy burden the Lord placed upon my shoulders and the weight of my failings as I realised how I fell far short of my appreciation of the subject.
In my reflections, I felt my underlying problems I had to deal with may be concisely summed up below.
1) Who are you?
This is the second question that Moses effectively posed to God in Exodus 3:11 and despite the fact that God had announced and made clear to him “who He is” in verse 6. Moses clearly understood and knew who God is as exemplifed by verse 6a. “And Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God”; into the burning bush.
In our lives as Christians, we have wholeheartedly subscribed to the majestic, omnipotent, great, almighty, sovereign and awesome God. We fervently declare, subscribe and endorse through our prayers, hymns,songs and sharing in communion and worship. I also recalled countless verses, hymns and prayers that affirms this as I perused my notes. He is also a loving, merciful and forgiving God but He is also the Judge of all men. I had considered “why do we have to appear before the
judgement seat if we are already His chosen elect people and He has forgiven us through the redemptive work of Jesus, our Saviour”? The timeless question we all have to answer when we appear before him had been tirelessly repeated in one shape form or another. And the only answer is given that we are all sinners, it can only be the verse from the “Rock of Ages” which we sung many times “ Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to the cross I cling”.
We know about His wrath and his anger and I noted particularly how God’s anger raged against Moses in Exodus 4:14 when Moses again questioned God’s calling to Him. If anything, I felt the deeper sense of His love culminated with His death on the cross. We know He had planted the seed of eternity in our souls and we discussed the fear of the Lord; and the reverential fear we ought to have in our worship.We acknowledge Him to be the Creator of all things whom we fail to revere and worship (Romans 1:18) and that he is from the beginning (1 John) .This is my abbreviated short version (albeit not exhaustive) impressions and imagery of God as I grow to know Him more each day. I listened to two sharing in recent weeks on Job 38 and Isaiah 55 where we once again emphasised his sovereignty and how far the “distance” between His thoughts and His ways are from ours. So I examined myself once again of my worship and reverence for God as I recount the number of times we wrongfully put God on our equal footing and” bargained” with him or questioned His way through events happening around us.
I was reminded of my respect and honour for my Earthly father and I never dared disobeyed, o end or bring sadness, disdain or hurt to him.Yet here with my Heavenly Father, I sometimes live on a perchance of risking His ire, wrath and anger by being disobedient nor pay heed to Him. Perhaps I don’t honour and worship and revere Him as I should. Is it because I paint Him as a loving merciful and forgiving God in my mind. He brought me back to Matt 7:21 and where Jesus declares “Not every one who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven”. The light bulb lit up for me as to my earlier question of appearing before the Judgement Seat.
I became more fully aware of my extent of my faith. It took a dive when I realised from my questions and discussions went in the direction of boldness, fear of rejection, fear of being ostracised and not getting results when we share the gospel. I had prayed for boldness and strength with sharing the gospel or engaging in the God talk. I repented before God and instead I will pray for clarity followed by faith and obedience henceforth.I was also reminded of the circumstances of disobedience
and yielding to temptations that led to The Fall; as well as the underlying reasons why none of the first generation people Moses led into the promised land failed to make it; including Moses.
2) Who am I ?
a) I was reminded by God’s promise to the children of Israel whom he delivered from the bondage of slavery -“I will be your God if you will be my people, For this purpose I have raised you that I may show My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all of the earth”. In the same way, the new testament is over owing with the purpose of His calling .. to be a chosen race, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.
So when I pondered over the Great Commission. In Matt 28, I ask myself. Have I regarded this instruction as an option to undertake if I am free, convenient or bold and willing or something more? Is it a mere invitation or a request or something much more, like a commandment. I reflected that God know we are prone to go the Moses’s way and throw all kinds of impediments, excuses and arguments. I reasoned, “God must surely know our hardness of our hearts, obstinate nature and our reluctance and how far short we fall with this”. Is that why the last words of Christ recorded to us is the same assurance God promised Moses, “for I am with you…. to the end of the age”. The weight got a lot heavier as I felt how I had got things so wrong in my prayers, my understanding of His purpose for me and my lack of conviction that He is with me always. It is His work working through His people, not mine.
I then moved on to 2 Cor 5:11 -21 and the sharing from three weeks ago in particular verse 19 “..entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”. A trust is a legal arrangement where the testator, the creator of the trust appoints one or more trustees to carry out and execute the object of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. It is not too difficult to work out who represents the testator, the trustees and the beneficiaries. The object of the trust is to bring the beneficiaries to an under-
standing and acceptance of His ministry of reconciliation plan between God and Man and salvation through Christ. In legal parlance, the duties of the trustees are fiduciary in nature, The trustee is obligated to act in the interests of the beneficiary. This leave little room for issues like boldness, and the other fears we often raise. So it is not an invitation by
b) We call ourselves at times “Followers of Jesus”. I ask myself what doe it mean to be a follower? If you think of the word ‘follower’ as a “noun” , you reach a certain conclusion to mean an association , group or a class of people belonging to Jesus. but if you think of it as a ‘verb’,it conjures up a wider interpretation. You can fault me on nomenclature power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all of the earth”. In the same way, the new testament is over owing with the purpose of His calling .. to be a chosen race, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.here but just go along for the time being. If you take “follower” to mean to follow His character, way of life attributes, His demeanour and the way He lived His life and we emulate that, it creates a whole new spectrum of ideas that we may have inadvertently suppressed.
It led me to dwell upon “the One who left the splendour of Heaven in obedience to His Father willingly to fulfil a purpose desired of Him,and by faith entrusted His life to His father for our sake. I am sure you see the similarities in the trust relationship from the preceding paragraph. Further, my meditation led me to contemplate the duties of an ambassador for Christ; obligations and duties of a royal priesthood,holy nation, chosen, special possession as to what the roles mean and
what do they entail. We had often excused ourselves and thought it better to leave evangelism to missionaries, pastoral team and those schooled in theological colleges. This thought does not sit well with anything here.
I felt a heavier weight as I think of His last words to us….”I will be with you always, till the end of age’ and how dismissive I had been.
3) Who are the players involved
I find I had been sometimes overly concerned with confidence, with boldness, with results, coping with rejection, the fears of not being accepted and being ostracised. As I did that the Spirit brought into my mind His words, “The world will hate you because it hated Me first”.I reminded myself of the Parable of the Sower. Paul also reminded us that It is not our skill or words or eloquence but It is God’s work. I was also reminded of the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”Matt 5:10-12
Last week I was reminded in a sharing and reached a conclusion that If Satan will tempt Jesus at the start of His ministry, would Satan leave you alone when you start yours. I observe Jesus used scripture to rebuke him. We will encounter spiritual warfare when we become followers; starting in our minds (hearts and the things that defile us ) (Mark 7:21), wrongly thinking of the things we have long become accustomed to and the usual 7 Moses responses in regard to the Great Commission.
Whatever was in his state of mind, we can only speculate when he tried to say NO. He was a wanted man in Egypt for a murder and he had a new wife, family with a newborn son, Gershom. So he may have a number of similar reasons to say No. We often put these “considerations” in our minds when we begin/ start to give excuses for being silent. So, clarity is the key.
But my other testing came when I was asked and tried to list down the names of 5 people that I wanted to pray for opportunities to share the gospel and their salvation There is absolutely nothing wrong with this request and approach. However, I found myself in a situation where I could not help but have preference for the lovely, those who had been good to me, those who have not hurt me or my family, have not done bad things to me or betrayed me…and so on. It got to a stage I thought of people whom I would not include in this list or perhaps even engage in God talk with them; literally condemning them to someone else or (hopefully not), a worse result, …to eternal punishment. I felt so burden with sin as I was reminded that Jesus came and died for the unrighteous and His call to love those who hate you.
For instance if I had known Saul of Tarsus, in regards to what he had done… before the road to Damascus, would I have him in my list?Would I pray for him if I knew he heartily gave approval for the stoning of Steven, a dear faithful brother. He had many arrested, and killed many members of our church and had since obtained letters to seek out Christians and persecute them.I felt the weight heavy on my shoulders as these thoughts rolled in and I repented. I realised how Satan was so cunningly playing with my mind.This I reasoned, is not the way of thinking for a Christian or a follower of Jesus. How much more we ought to look unto Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.