Evangelism IS Personal
I’ve been reading Will McRaney’s The Art of Personal Evangelism lately. It is a very good read, especially for anyone who is considering a life in the ministry. One thing that has had me scratching my head a lot lately is right in the first chapter of the book. McRaney says that God created us to live in both “relationship” and “community” to Him. I’d like to take a look at both of those statements briefly and give my point of view on them.
McRaney says that since we were created in His image and will live eternally, God made us for a relationship. He came and died for us to cleanse us from our sins; all we have to do is believe. The fact that all people won’t be with Christ eternally leaves us questioning, according to McRaney, that God is either very unpredictable in how He deals with people or unable to live up to the promises He has made. He is neither unpredictable nor unable to live up to His promises (Phil 2:13 and Job 9:10). Relationships, as I’m sure we all know, are purely voluntary. We choose whom we want to be involved in a relationship with. We can make the choice to be in a relationship with Christ or we can choose to avoid a relationship. God has given us a free will to make that choice. He doesn’t force us to love Him. He doesn’t force us to follow Him. He doesn’t force us to do anything. The only thing that we need to be cognizant of is the repercussions of our actions. By saying “no” to Christ means risking that we will live forever without Him. As the Bible talks of hell and we debate whether or not that is an actual place of fire and brimstone with pointy-tailed demons running around, one thing is painfully clear: We are in hell when God is not with us, and, if we choose to turn our backs on Him, then we are without Him. As I weave my way through this life, claiming my Christianity and my relationship to Christ, others see my actions and hear my words and determine whether it is something in which they could believe. I have seen others come to Christ through seeing my outward relationship to our Lord. I have seen an impact in they way people have lived their lives, even if for a brief moment in time. God has sent people my way who probably never would have been in my life and they have stuck around, openly knowing that I am a Christian and that is how I will live my life.
As for community, this one I personally have been struggling with lately. To quote McRaney, “God desires to restore community and family among the redeemed.” As mentioned before, my wife and I divorced. I have personally been questioning that quote ever since I started reading this book a month ago. I have been thinking that if God so desired this community, especially through the sacrament of my marriage to my wife, then why would it come to this bitter end? But then I begin thinking, the community doesn’t just end at my wife. God has given me plenty of friends that are constantly showing me their love. He gave me a strong community of friends. And then I see the miracles happen!!! Some of those friends see how I am conducting myself and make the choice to give their lives to Christ!!! It is written in Romans 8:28, “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God-those whom he has called according to his plan.”
Community and relationship are two parts of a very significant whole in our lives. As one of my pastors likes to say, “without one we are not whole and left with a hole.” If you want to learn a little bit about evangelism through the eyes of an evangelist, then I challenge you to read McRaney’s book. And then I challenge you to go out and practice getting personal with people. Get personal with people who do not know Christ. Get personal with people at work. Get personal with people at the gym. Just get personal. You don’t have to give a life commitment to the person, but you have to give a God commitment to them and be there until God pulls you away.
McRaney, Will. The Art of Personal Evangelism: Sharing Jesus in a Changing Culture. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-8054-2624-8.