Evangelism means trusting that God works behind the scenes
Christians regularly pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” When Jesus sent out his disciples, he told them to say, “The kingdom of God is near.” How can Christians convey this same message in today’s world? It starts by trusting the power behind the Word.
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Luke 13:18-21)
Unbelievers regularly demand evidence of God’s hand. Christians like myself sometimes demand evidence as well. We plead for God’s will to make itself known in our lives. And for those who step out in faith to share their faith with others, we long to see fruit for our efforts. We want people to accept our invitation to come to church, express desire to learn more about the gospel, and receive faith from the gospel message. When that doesn’t happen according to our timetable, we get frustrated and disappointed. A by-product of misplaced hope is inaction.
Proclaiming the gospel is risky. We may not go to jail or be persecuted for evangelism, but there is an emotional risk of placing ourselves out there to be hurt, rejected, or disappointed.
It’s a risk that far too many Christians are unwilling to take.
Jesus tells us in Luke 13:18-21 to trust him. Faithful farmers are encouraged to liberally scatter the seeds of His Word and trust that the Lord of the harvest will use it for his purpose and glory. Like a small mustard seed, God uses short gospel messages in ways that we can’t imagine.
Faith does not demand evidence, but trusts that God works behind the scenes. He works in people’s hearts and minds that Christians rarely see. Hope in Christ prompts obedience that focuses entirely on minding our own business. We carry out our role of delivering messages of Good News. God’s business is to use those messages to carry out His purposes. That is his work. That is his responsibility and not ours.
Last week, I had the privilege to partner with Our Savior Lutheran Church in Roanoke, VA for the purpose of training members how to proclaim the gospel. The following day, I joined members from the church for an opportunity to put our training into action by going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel. Towards the end of the afternoon on a humid day with thunderstorms looming in the horizon, I decided to knock on one more door. It’s uncanny how the last door of the day tends to be a good one.
And I was not disappointed.
Denton was a truck driver with a southern drawl that could only come from growing up in the back country of Virginia. I found him out working in the garage. After greeting him and introducing myself, he told me, “I respect God and all, but I want to have nothing to do with church.” Surly wouldn’t be the appropriate word to describe Denton, but I saw an opportunity to engage him and build a bridge based on respect. For the next fifteen to twenty minutes, I asked questions about his life, plus told him funny stories of what it’s like going around the country to knock on doors sharing Christ with people. He seemed to enjoy that.
He told me that he grew up on a 100-acre farm in southern Virginia with a variety of crops and about a 100 head of mean show horses. He had never met his mother and his father was rarely around. A strict grandfather raised him to be tough and made him work hard as a child. Pointing to his nice house that had a large yard, a garage full of toys, a ’67 GT that he takes to car shows, and a motorhome parked out back, he told me, “I know how to work hard. Always have. And I deserve everything I get.”
I answered, “Denton, I don’t have treasures like you and I confess that the motorhome you have out back does make me envious. But I have treasures awaiting me in heaven and I appreciate the treasures God gives me right now. My treasure is the peace and confidence that I have knowing that my sins are fully forgiven right now, because of what Jesus Christ has already done for me. He is all I need. And, Denton, as a man of God, I wouldn’t feel right leaving you right now – especially a man whom I like and respect – without telling you that.
With a sly smile and a little tug of anger, he told me, “I can respect that. But if you would have told me that at the beginning, I would have kicked your butt off my property.”
I left Denton with a smile on my face and prayed for him while walking back to my car. A mustard seed was planted. His soul certainly seemed like hard-packed soil, but God’s Word is far more powerful. I thanked the Lord for the bridge that was built and the opportunity to squeeze in God’s Word. It’s now God’s business to bring Denton to faith and find the true treasures he could never earn on his own.
We can pray, “Lord, continue to remind us to fix our eyes on you, especially when it comes to sharing the gospel message with others. Help me to trust that you use every gospel word that comes out of my mouth. Allow me to trust that you are working behind the scenes. Increase my faith so that a lack of evidence doesn’t sway me from minding my own business of carrying out what you have set me apart to do. I trust you. I trust the power of your Word. Amen.”