Trust is everything. Stepping out in faith requires trust. We use the phrase “if I only” as a precursor to justify the gap between faith and action. This is especially true for evangelism. Only after stepping out in faith do Christians realize that they already have something that they never thought they possessed. One of the greatest movies of all-time exemplifies this point.
When it comes to doing something that seems far beyond our capacity — or something that is uncomfortable or scary — we tend to disregard what we already possess.
Perhaps you are familiar with the following:
“I don’t have the gift of evangelism.”
“I don’t feel ready or equipped.”
“That’s just not me.”
When I hear those excuses, I will often say, “You are exactly right!”
Most Christians do not have the gift of evangelism. Most are not ready or feel equipped. And evangelism is not about them.
Excuses that attempt to disqualify ourselves from proclaiming the gospel tend to center on thinking that we don’t have what we need to proclaim the gospel. I think that God would disagree. He says that by faith alone, a believer has all that they need.
I believe the movie, “The Wizard of OZ,” provides a wonderful example of this truth. This movie helps us to correct a Christian’s common excuse that uses the phrase, “If I only.”
We are like the scarecrow by saying, “I would share the gospel with my neighbor, if I only had a brain.”
We are like the tin man by saying, “I would witness my faith to my friend, if I only had a heart.”
We are like the cowardly lion by saying, “I would share my faith to a coworker, if I only had the courage.”
I like how Dorothy responded to her three friends on the yellow brick road. She didn’t condone nor ridicule, but expressed compassion and understanding. She led them to discover a very important truth. They have what they longed for by trusting in something outside of themselves.
Let’s address three common excuses for Christians to refrain from evangelism that specifically pertains to what the scarecrow, tin man, and lion were longing for.
- “If I only had a brain.”
“What do I say?”
“I don’t know enough Bible verses.”
“I am not a trained theologian to answer objections and hard questions.”
May I suggest that 5% of Christians have the gift of evangelism, but that doesn’t disqualify the remaining 95%.
God commissions all believers to proclaim the gospel, but they are not alone. He gives them His Word. That is where the power lies. A simple gospel message can be chiseled down to six word, “Believe. Your sins are fully forgiven.”
The scarecrow was given a diploma and he was instantly smart. He trusted in something outside of himself.
Christians proclaim what they already know to be true. God’s Word remains in them. When Christians step out in faith to engage and connect with people for the purpose of sharing their faith, they trust God’s Words to convert rather than their own words to convince.
- “If I only had a heart”.
“I’m too busy.”
“I just don’t have the time.”
Evangelism is inconvenient. Our human nature can rattle off a hundred things that it would rather do than reach the lost. Evangelism requires an investment. It’s not only an investment of time, but an investment of energy and emotion. We living in a culture that refrains from investing in another person’s life.
What prompts us to rescue a lost soul?
The tin man was given a heart and he instantly loved. He trusted in something outside of himself.
Christians love because Christ first loved us. It was God’s sacrificial love that drove him to the cross. His heart and compassion that resides in believers is what prompts hearts to risk or invest in others. When Christians step out in faith to reveal and share the light within them, they are investing their most valuable commodity that will yield the highest return. Not that they will be rewarded monetarily, but they will receive the joy and peace that goes beyond measure to carry out God’s ultimate purpose for his church.
- “If I only had the nerve.”
“I can’t do this.”
“Evangelism is just not me.”
The cowardly lion was the most beloved character in the movie. He seems so vulnerable. We could relate to him. Our human nature tends to provide a false bravado, but when confronted with fear, the excuses come pouring out. For this reason, the sign-up sheet for sharing the gospel lies blank in the back of the church.
Evangelism is terrifying.
The cowardly lion was given a medal for bravery, and he found the nerve to be who God created him to be… a courageous lion. The king of the jungle.
The cowardly lion forgot who he was.
And so do we.
When confronted with the great commission, our human nature looks in the mirror and fears. God tells us to look to him instead. One of his greatest promises comes right after his greatest commission – “and surely, I will be with you until the end of time.”
Dorothy knew that Oz was not her world, and longed to return home. Her eyes were always fixated on that.
The time is drawing near, and like Dorothy, we are not home.
Like a thief in the night, the parable of the ten virgins, and three clicks of the heel, the end of this age will come suddenly and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
Evangelists keep an eternal focus on everything that they do. Spurned by a heart of compassion that God has for the lost, and the wisdom God provides through His Word, we crucify our selfish pursuits, our tendency for self-preservation and hone in on God’s primary purpose for his church and our lives – to share a message of salvation with others.
Because there is no place like home.
There is no place like home.