Dec 06, 2019 08:00am
Evangelism Begins With Grace

If you’re like me, the word evangelism is a like a guilt switch in my soul. You say “evangelism” and immediately three gallons of guilt (and a dash of shame) swarm my heart. I start fearfully asking myself questions: 

“What friends have I shared the gospel with in the last month?” 

“How might I force a stranger into a conversation in the next five minutes?” Ahhhh!

While these are potentially good questions (ish), it’s not a good starting place for thinking about evangelism. Evangelism doesn’t start with talking to people; it actually starts with grace. 

Here, I’ll explain. It seems confusing ’cause we’re working backwards – but just stick with it:

Think backwards

Traditionally, you see the word “evangelism” and you think, “Having gospel conversations with unbelievers.” But since 90% of conversions occur through established relationships, you gotta think a step before that. Make friends with non-Christians. Rub shoulders with them. 

But even that requires putting yourself in social circles with non-Christians. So you gotta do that first.

Still, simply rubbing shoulders with non-Christians won’t just work. Like, you need to be a winsome, compelling human being, with some sort of “awesome sauce” about you. The Bible calls this “the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15-17). 

Because you can’t just muster up Jesus’ aroma. Last time I checked, Jesus Deodorant isn’t next to Old Spice in the hygiene aisle. No, the aroma of Christ is given to you by the Spirit, more and more, as you delve into His Word, pray, and experience the life-change that comes from those disciplines. 

Which means: public impact on others starts with private impact from Jesus.

But does this mean if you missed your devo this morning (or month!) you suddenly can’t win others to Jesus? No, of course not! However, there is a “sharpening” that takes place as you study the Word and ready yourself for every good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21). Posture yourself near the sharpening stone.

And yet to even approach the Bible requires grace. God graciously wrote the Bible, and your affections for the Bible are graciously given. 

Still, further, the Bible itself is grace. Check out how Paul’s letter to the Galatians opens and closes:

As the letter begins, Paul writes, “Grace to you…” (1:3). 

And in the very last verse of the letter, we read, “Grace…be with you…” (6:18). 

What changed from the beginning of the letter to the end? Well, the readers in the very reading of the Bible experienced the grace of God! 

Why? Because the Bible is grace.

Think forwards

So, here’s the logic again, except this time from the bottom up:

Approaching the Bible, in grace, we sharpen ourselves by spending time with Jesus. We do this regularly. Over time, we begin to think and act like Jesus, giving us the very aroma of Jesus. Which naturally prompts us to desire non-Christians friends. 

We orient our schedules around this, never settling until we’re regularly around unbelievers. As Jesus loves these new friends through us, conversations begin, questions are asked, life on life ensues.

Evangelism made natural

Evangelism, then, becomes much less a guilt switch, but just the ordinary, non-pressured, natural process of our lives. Boldness and decisions are necessary throughout every step. But it’s less of a “Shoot, I should evangelism sometime next week,” and more of a, “Most of what I do every day, in one way or another, is evangelistic . . . and it’s kinda easy and fun.”

Copyright © 2019 by Justin Talbert @ . Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from