When I first got married, I lived in a constant state of guilt over my lack of 'evangelizing' abilities. You see, I married a guy who is one of the biggest (and most joyous!) extroverts I've ever met. Rarely does he get down, and rarely does that joy and exuberance leave for a single moment. We would go to the grocery store, and he would strike up a conversation with the check out clerk, and he had the most natural, unassuming way to bring Christ into the conversation. Everywhere he went, he talked about Jesus, and he loves to sing and has been known to sing (unabashedly) at the top of his lungs...in public. At the store, the park, the back yard, the mall, a restaurant parking lot. Whenever, wherever, and generally, it's a lively black gospel song. Then there's me. I have a great big love for Jesus too, but you wouldn't catch me dead singing full blast in public. And if I walked up to the stranger at the grocery store and said the things that Brad says, well, honestly, I would (and have, I've tried it) get the most awkward of stares, followed by an equally awkward response. Followed by averted eyes that clearly say, "I hope this weird Jesus girl goes away soon." Now, make no mistake, I'm certainly not trying to shirk my responsibility to evangelize based on my more introverted, reserved-until-I-get-to-know-you-a-bit tendencies. By no means can I disregard Jesus' command to "therefore go and make disciples" and apologize to Jesus later, "But Lord, you created me shy!" Um yeah, that just won't do.
Let's fast forward almost four years to today. Today, I don't feel guilty that I don't evangelize the way my boisterous not-a-shy/quiet-bone-in-his-body husband does. He does what he does well, but the Lord has shown me another way to show non-believers His love. It's revolutionary. Get ready. Hold on to your pants. Here it is.........
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE SOME MORE. As Shane Claiborne writes in his book (that is messing me up currently) Irresistible Revolution, "It's simple but it's not easy." Well put. It sounds easy, until I'm in Iwant to do, enjoying my cush little life and marking things off of my (uber important, of course) to-
do list. That's when the whole love thing becomes hard. When God calls me to reach outside my comfort zone. Trust me, though my heart is heavy and I have an unexplainably big love for homeless people, it's NOT in my comfort zone to bake cookies with my girls and actually go plop ourselves down in the homeless shelter and not only pass out cookies as my nice comfortable home doing what
quickly as possible before bolting uncomfortably, but rather passing out cookies in love and engaging in meaningful conversation with other human beings. With the least of these. It's a quality of Jesus we conveniently overlook as privileged American Christians. If we want to evangelize, we have to be Jesus to those who don't know him (whether rich or poor), and I dare say the thing that stands out to me most is Jesus' continual (not occasional) association and authentic friendship with the poor, the lepers, the outcasts, the 'worst' of sinners. Why do we overlook this? Because it makes us uncomfortable, so we practice the other things: being patient, kind, loving (to our friends and family and the 'desirables'), generous, joyful, peaceful...but not necessarily sacrificial loving. Not to the ones who are difficult to love.
Now I'm not tooting my horn or standing on a soap box as I write this. I'm writing this because I'm super convicted myself. The cookies to the homeless shelter? This is not an every day or even once a year activity for us. I want it to be though! I want to step out of my comfort zone so much that it becomes comfortable! I don't hear of too many people getting saved from a tract left in the ladies room (although I'm sure it happens...I'm not knockin you if that's your thing!), or from hearing the 'evangelists' screaming about hell on college campuses. I hear amazing stories of people coming to Christ because of a believer's radical love toward them. Let's be radical for Jesus. Let's do what is truly so simple, yet so hard (Jesus said following him would not be easy, why are we always looking for it to be so?). Let's love others. The one's who are the most difficult to love. Let's love them the way Jesus did. Genuinely, with no agenda, no expectations. Just unadulterated, pure, big, Jesus love.
Back to the 'commissioned moments'. We have all been given the great commission. A commissioned moment is a moment where you are given a divine opportunity to show the love of God. Use actions.
When necessary and when given the opportunity, use words. Smile more. Listen more. Ask more questions and don't just say "I'll be praying for you", but rather, "Can I pray for you right now?" Whatever it is the Holy Spirit lays on your heart, I challenge you, and me, jump on those moments and don't let them slip by! Pray for more of them, and then take on those commissioned moments with courage and love and grace!
note: I'm not saying Brads way of sharing Christ is bad! It's a gift he's been given, and he uses it well. But those with a big bold personality who find evangelizing to come very naturally must still love well (which he does), otherwise their words are 'a clanging cymbal' and not much more. Conversely, I can't simply love people but never proclaim the truth. Some of us need to pray for an added measure of boldness to go along with our quiet love!