It’s easy to get caught up with the latest trend, the new idea or the cutting-edge approach to getting something done. That’s partly because our society is changing at such a rapid pace that what worked in past may quickly go out-of-fashion if we don’t keep up,For this reason, Christians and churches can feel out of place in a world that progressively sidelines the teachings and values of Christ. Some of us doggedly hold on to the way we’ve always done things while others go with the flow, combining church and popular culture in the hope of being relevant. Most churches lie somewhere in between.
One area of Christian life that is affected by these challenges is our witness to the world about Jesus Christ. How do we share the good news of God’s Kingdom in the 21st century? How do we uncompromisingly declare the truth without turning people off from hearing about the true God?
I believe that Paul’s letter to the early church in Rome gives timeless insight into how we should approach doing the will of God in whatever enterprise we’re in, including evangelism. Paul in Romans 12:1-2 encourages believers to:
1) “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”
Only those who have truly laid down their lives for Jesus will understand how much it matters to God that his followers reach out to those who don’t know him. We worship him when the deepest part of our being – our spirit – genuinely places worth in who Jesus is and what he values.
Concerning his purpose and who he values, ‘Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”’ (Luke 5:31-32). We have to remember that all people are sinners so he came to save everyone. As far as God is concerned, evangelism is just as relevant now as it’s always been. He still wants us to step out of our comfort-zone and boldly share the Gospel.
2) “not conform to the pattern of this world”
Proclaiming that Jesus is the only way to God certainly goes against the relativism so prevalent in our culture today. Christians in particular are told not to impose their beliefs on others. They must just keep their faith to themselves, according to the naysayers. It’s sad that worldly opinions like these have even become pervasive in many of our churches, sometimes at a subconscious level. Nevertheless, the only view that should matter for Christians is found in the Bible.
God wants his followers, motivated by love and always with respect, to plainly tell others about Jesus’ amazing, life-saving sacrifice for them. Paul explains, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)
Sharing our faith can be scary. We risk rejection and even persecution for telling others what we believe and encouraging them to consider Jesus’ offer of salvation and hope to all who believe in him. We don’t have to be fearful though because God promises to give us the dynamic ability, through the Holy Spirit, to tell others about him (Acts 1:8).
3) “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
We must allow God’s Word to change us by letting it reshape our thinking. Transformed believers take what God says to heart and live it out. They become more like Jesus in their thoughts, motivations, speech and deeds through a process called sanctification.
Sanctification prepares us to more readily obey God and reveal him to the world around us. Jesus earnestly prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:17-18)
Paul concludes the passage in Romans by explaining that, ”Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.“
The discernment we need to help us spread the Gospel more effectively in our time comes to us when we sacrificially live for God, reject the world’s way of doing things and allow God to change our hearts. Christians don’t have to look far to see what a world that rejects God looks like. Although our message doesn’t change, the strategies we use to get it out can and should adapt to the times.
What will your response be? What do you think your role is in the Great Commission?
How does your church view evangelism and missions?
How can we improve the way we share our faith with others?