Evangelism: Settle in for the Long Haul

I believe that impatience is one of the deepest flaws in the evangelism that we have learned from contemporary Christianity. I wrote this blog post two years ago and I am still convinced that this is a major issue we need to address in Christianity.

When you believe that your ministry of evangelism is on a timetable to get people to believe in Jesus before a certain point (e.g. before they die) then you naturally become impatient and then desperate. You become willing to manipulate and play tricks. You become willing to put programs and activities above people. You decide that the end really does justify the means. This desperation becomes the stench of death to the non-believer and ends up derailing the very goal it seeks to achieve.

There is only one reason, in Christ, to be in relationship with a non-believer: because you like and love that person and want to be with him.

In fact, you like and love that person so much that you want to listen to him and be in relationship with him even if he never comes to believe the truth about his identity in Jesus. This is exactly who Jesus is and what Jesus has done.

In Jesus, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have decided to always be God with humanity, even if humanity forever keeps wanting to be humanity without God.

The Trinity likes and loves us that much, that they would rather have us in our disbelief – and really have us – than to be without us. That is why the Father is called the Father, because he loves us the way only a Father can. In fact, what we call the love of fatherhood is but a pale reflection of the source of all parental love: the Father who has always loved the Son and includes humanity in that same love through the Son’s union with humanity as the man Jesus Christ.

The Father has decided that all human beings will live forever in the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:22). This means that the Father has given himself eternity to keep talking to his children about how much he loves them and to keep inviting them to join the eternal celebration of his Kingdom Feast (Luke 15:28).

So, if we are going to participate in Jesus’ ministry of evangelism we need to take a deep breath, relax, and settle in for the long haul.

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. Jane Hinrichs on

    Thank you Pastor Jonathan. Without relationship, evangelism is just an exercise in witnessing for the Believer. Often it is nothing more. Relationship is key. And people know if we really love them or not. If we don’t we really should keep our mouths shut.

  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks, Jane, I appreciate your thoughts!

  3. Boyd Merriman on

    When someone reads this and they are the promoters of “preach them to heaven before all hell breaks loose” approach, then they are also the ones who will say that God cannot save them without our preaching.

    One preacher told me that he feels a “burden from the Lord” (where did that come from?) to tell these people before they die because he will be held responsible for their eternal damnation if he don’t. I told him he is taking on way too much that Jesus already took upon himself at the cross.

    I can certainly understand why people call it a burden from the Lord because that is exactly how it feels. But Jesus said to take on HIS burden, and it is light.

    They also do not believe that God loves them. One person told me that God does not love them unless they believe. I asked this person, “then how can they believe that God loves them if God does not love them unless they believe, which they cannot if God does not love them first” I gave him the scriptures that God loves us while we were still sinners.

    The problem is, I am talking to pastors, preachers, teachers, people who should KNOW this stuff! Yet they are the ones promoting this heresy that God does not love us unless we are his children by our belief. If we don’t believe, then we are not the beloved children of God. Its’ no wonder the world isn’t getting it! We are the ones preaching them to hell!

    I keep reminding these people that every time Jesus talked about hell, ironically, he was always talking to the local preachers! When he talked about love, mercy, forgiveness, healing, feeding, and acceptance and the Fathers love, he was always talking to the harlots, drunks, demon possessed, the “lost”.

    Why don’t we see that?

    Boyd

  4. Pastor Jonathan on

    I agree, Boyd – Jesus was most concerned about religious leaders going to hell! I think we don’t see these things for the same reason we have trouble seeing everything about the Father, Son and Spirit: we are so blinded by our own sin that we don’t even realize how warped our thinking is. It’s not until Jesus confronts us in our blindness that we begin to see.


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