A short while ago I was talking with a student about the fact that so few people in North America actually engage in sharing the gospel with others. I asked her why she thought this might be so.
There was no hidden agenda behind my question; I was genuinely curious. What is it that keeps believers from telling non-believers that they are loved by God and that their sins are forgiven in Christ?
This student replied, “I think we are afraid of what people might think of us.” In that moment a light went on for me.
I do believe we should be concerned of what people think of us to the degree that we will avoid being obnoxious while sharing the gospel. We should do the work the Holy Spirit prompts us to do, and do it with all the fruits of the Spirit on full display: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
But when this student said she thought we are afraid of what people might think of us, it dawned on me that if I am more concerned of what people think of me than what God, who loves me, thinks of me, then I’m struggling with some form of idolatry.
The love of God as a counter to idolatry
The Scriptures say that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). I suppose a corollary could be drawn from this that “imperfect love breeds anxiety.” If I am looking to anyone other than God as a primary source of love, then I am setting myself up to be afraid and insecure, especially when it comes to sharing the gospel.
Human love is great as far as it goes, but if we consider the weakness of our own love towards others, it becomes easy to imagine that human love, as good as it is, cannot do for us what only God’s love can.
C. S. Lewis once wrote an essay called “First and Second Things” and rightly he suggested that if we put first things first, we get second things thrown in, but if we put second things first, we will lose out on both first and second things.
Confidence in evangelism begins in the love of God.
Perhaps one of the reasons we are so hesitant to tell others about Jesus is that we’ve forgotten how deeply and unconditionally he loves us. Jesus said that if we abide in him, we will bear much fruit. He also said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The prerequisite to evangelizing is abiding in God’s love. Being more concerned about what others think of us than what Jesus thinks of us—that is, forgetting that he loves us—will freeze us in our tracks.
Rekindling our first love
We need to rekindle within us a sense of his love for us. In doing this, my guess is that sharing the gospel with others will become easier and more natural, as time goes by.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today, Jerry Root