Wednesday, May 28, 2014

evangelism: vandalizing our comfort zones

Evangelizing is every Christian's duty.

But what IS evangelism? What does God say about it?

Does He ask us to go & preach it down our neighbor's throats? Or does He tell us to love them?

Lately I've been wondering how influential I am for the kingdom of God. Sure, I can find many ways to serve within the family of Christ, but is that just as influential as helping add to the numbers within our family?

When I was sharing these thoughts with a sweet friend and mentor, she put her thoughts like this: “...and does it matter if we ever know all the seeds we've planted? The lives we have impacted?”

It doesn't. What matters is if we step out in faith with a pure motive of seeing the Gospel go forth and seeing our fellow man come to know the saving grace we have only begun to comprehend.

Have I been fearless in sharing God's love? I've been continually praying for opportunities to reach out to someone who is living in darkness. As I have been praying The Lord has been showing me that one of the best ways to witness is to build up unity in the body of Christ.

 If we don't love each other, certainly those in darkness will not step out & want to be a part of our fellowship when the opportunity arises. They will not know (and therefore seek) Jesus' love, because they haven't seen it demonstrated. The Christian life in this scenario is no different then their own. Ever since the Lord has laid this burning question about evangelism on my heart, He has been giving me opportunites to show His love to people that may not have a deep, personal relationship with Him.

In the past, I have dealt with an insane guilt for taking part in anything that screams "luxurious & American." I have seen black babies with big, empty bellies. I have seen immense poverty. Isn't it selfish to love air conditioning and going to get a massage? Isn't it selfish to spend $5 on a cup of coffee in a beautiful building?

 Isn't it selfish to want to go on safari when you could still be 'on the mission field'?

It could be selfish. Or it could be a God-given opportunity to show His love in every dusty & glamorous corner of your life.

Just because you're treating yourself, doesn't mean you can't find someone to love on in the process. Every place our dusty feet walk is a mission field if we choose to make it one. The Holy Spirit doesn't withdrawal His guidance just because you're spending money versus giving it away. He is interested in where your heart is. If it is with Him and the spending all of your resources reflects that, that's all that really matters.

"God doesn't ask us to change people's lives; He simply asks us to live ours." -Emily P. Freeman, Graceful

If we live our lives well, that in itself is a ministry we cannot imagine.

Ironically with the Lord's tender love and sense of humor, the two recent highlighted opportunities that I've recently had, one of which I'm going to share with you, both happened when I was 'treating myself'.

Sitting in the waiting room, waiting for it to be my turn to get a massage, a middle-aged women comes in my corner of the high-ceiling building that has a smell of perfume, hairspray, and a tiny scent of nail polish everywhere you walk. We made small talk. Talked about dresser drawers and our favorite purses. Nothing spectacular. Soon, her husband calls. He gets mad at her (from my eavesdropping perspective, they simply needed to communicate the day's appointments that morning) and hangs up on her. This blonde women with dress pants and tennis shoes is hurting and I can see it. Of course, if I was choosing to only think about how I forgot to bring something to do in the waiting room or that I was having an absolutely horrible hair day instead of looking across the room at this beautiful woman that God has created, I would have missed her pain entirely. It could have been a selfish moment, because she was disrupting my peace and quiet. In some very inspirational Christian living book, the author would proceed to tell you that they asked the woman to pray with them, she consented, and by the end of the whole waiting period everyone was hugging and crying happy tears. None of that happened. I wish I would have done something so outgoing those weeks ago, but instead I stayed in the corner of that comfy sectional with my feet up praying for her and her husband. Suddenly, I wasn't focused on my little problems, but my attention was turned towards this sweet stranger fighting an awful battle.

When the other opportunity I was recently given came about, I was thankfully bold enough to share my faith verbally. As time goes on, The Lord is faithful to equip me about the hope that I have. Evangelism is very close to my heart and I cringe at the thought that I'm often to comfortable to practice one of my gifts and one of my highest callings.

The bottom line in all of this is: I have to be fully present. It doesn't have to be in the depths of an African village or in an Ecuadorian street - although I will be doing so very soon. For me, The Lord sent two different people to me & both in luxurious, stereotypical American environments. I pray that in the future I will be able to be more present in these moments & that I will continue to be bold, upfront, loving. However, until I continue in these relationships, or have the chance to intentionally show Jesus to several altogether different people, I will press on nurturing the kingdom of God by loving on my brothers & sisters already here - & for my fellow men still winding down the wide road that leads to destruction.

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.” —Hebrews 11:13-16, The Message

ponder this:
How can I show Jesus without words? With words?
Am I wanting to share Christ because I want to see the kingdom enhanced & bring glory to my Lord's name? Or do I want to feel better about myself & my legacy?
How can I nurture the body of Christ today?
How can I fight against lukewarmness in my community, & in my very own heart, this month?


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