When the angels appeared in the night sky to proclaim the good news of Christ’s birth, they provided an example and a clue for all believers on how to be evangelists.
All believers, like the angels, are to be heralds of Good News. And in that old English word “herald” we discover the truth and misconceptions about evangelism.
There was probably no grander stage than the darkened sky where the angels appeared before the shepherds. In the popular Christmas hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, we are confronted with an old English word that is no longer used in today’s language. Many Christians are familiar with the amusing story of a Sunday School child who upon singing this Christmas hymn asks their teacher, “Who is Harold?”
“[Jesus] said to [the disciples], “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus tells us that all believers are commissioned to go and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most believers may feel that they are off the hook since only pastors are qualified and trained to preach. Upon closer examination, the word “preach” is not nearly as an accurate translation as the word “herald.”
A herald is the advance person who lets a city know that the king is coming. The Apostle Paul considered himself an appointed herald, apostle, and teacher to proclaim the resurrection of Christ (2 Tim. 1:11). Jesus instructs his disciples to be heralds by delivering this message – “The Kingdom of God is near.”
In Christ, all believers are given an invitation and a solemn charge to be heralds. They are to proclaim the Good News of what Christ has done for the entire world. But for many of us, we desire to accept the invitation, but fail to even RSVP.
To borrow a phrase from the popular Geico commercials on television, “Don’t be like Harold. Be heralds!”
Who is “Harold”?
Here are some characteristics of “Harolds” that either ignore or fail to accept the invitation and solemn charge to be what Jesus calls us to be.
- “Harolds” are more prone to argue and debate in to order to win the argument rather than win the soul.
- “Harolds” like to judge hardened hearts as being “unconvertable” and give up.
- “Harolds” like to get wrapped up on the busy-ness of the world and discount the Scriptural truth that people are really going to hell.
- “Harolds” are shy about sharing their faith and overly concerned about offending people.
- “Harolds” are overcome with fear and refuse to proclaim the gospel with another person.
Are you heralds or are you “Harold”?
How many times have you planted the seeds of the gospel in the past five years? Do you take comfort in being inviters to church as a substitute of being a proclaimer? Are you more prone to relying exclusively on being a light for Christ rather than verbally proclaiming the Light?
In this increasingly dark world, perhaps God is calling us to be like the angels to proclaim the good news. He is setting forth a stage for believers to be heralds, so they may joyfully and confidently share the message of salvation with the world. Basking in Christ’s forgiveness and our status secure in Christ’s righteousness, our tongues ought to overflow with praise to proclaim the message of salvation.
A business axiom states, “You can’t sell what you don’t believe.” When we struggle to trust all of God’s promises, we are prone to succumb to our sinful nature and be like “Harold”.
In Christ, we proclaim what we believe – and be like heralds.
What are your thoughts? How can we be heralds in today’s world?