God With Us
I was wrong. I had no idea I'd get as much feedback as I received. Thanks for all the comments and email. One thing that many of you mentioned is a more incarnational approach to evangelism. Interestingly enough, isn't that the whole point of the season we're in? God could have given us a written document explaining the way back to a relationship with him. Instead, he sent a person.
He sent his Son who didn't just die for us -- he lived for us, showing us the true potential of life in the kingdom of God. He confronted evil and did his share of talking. But most of his teaching was done in the context of relationship. He laid the truth on the table and allowed people to walk away from it if they chose to.
Remember the rich, young ruler. Jesus says, "You need to go sell everything and give your money to the poor." The guy walked away. And this is the best part: Jesus let him. Jesus didn't chase him down. If that was us, we'd be tempted to run after him and say, "Hey, maybe that was too extreme. How about we start with just 10%?"
Here's the truth: Jesus usually behaved in unpredictable ways. He told people to keep quiet when we'd think it would be best to brag about the miracle. He told a crowd of people, "Before Abraham was, I AM." If I'd been there, I would have been saying, "Esus-jay, ot-nay ow-nay. Ix-nay on the alking-tay."
He rarely approaches two different people in the same way. So, any approach to evangelism that says, "Here's how you always respond when someone says this" is just way off. There's no such thing as cookie-cutter evangelism.
Hey, God is with us. That's the Immanuel promise of the incarnation. He hasn't left us as orphans. We have his abiding presence -- his Holy Spirit living within. As we walk with integrity and listen to the prompting of the Spirit, we may find ourselves boldly sharing our faith or quietly asking questions about someone else's. Our approach may begin to look more like the approach Jesus took. Sometimes asking direct questions. Sometimes giving vague answers. More often than not, telling stories and moving on.
Something tells me that might be the best thing we could hope for.
Something also tells me that this conversation isn't over yet.