Monday, March 3, 2014

It starts with a smile

When we talk about first steps at reaching a lost world, we usually talk about building relationships. It is a natural place to start and we often consider that it all starts with a simple introduction. I think that for most people, it would be easier if that introduction happened through a hospitality ministry worker at their church, but then again, that may be my sarcasm showing, in which case, I apologize.

Being proactive about your witness and sharing the gospel is something we are called to do and yet in today’s modern culture there is an extreme disconnect between individuals. We can certainly place blame all we want to, whether it be on social media, smart phones and electronic devices of all shapes and sizes or even on the fear of rejection. Whatever the case, our receptiveness to reach a lost and dying world seems rather frozen at times. This is not to say that people are not coming to know the freedom of a life that is fully devoted to Jesus, but the ways in which that is happening has more to do with the recently saved reaching backwards to help someone they know. The proof of that can be seen in nearly every modern church today.

What is necessary then, to make a change for those in church today, is to look at how we approach evangelism. That word may take on a different meaning for you than it does for me but either way, it should mean reaching the lost, pure and simple. Sometimes, I think that wearing a T-shirt that says Jesus on the front should be ample but I know the truth and that is that those who are truly disconnected from Jesus aren’t looking for an interrogation. They are also not looking for condemnation, but instead they all seem to want respect for having an open mind. So we stand back, pray for them at times and let them be, hoping that one day they will walk into our church and be introduced to us by the guy at the door. At that point, they are now safe enough for you to talk to because they are in your comfort zone.

Wouldn’t that be nice; evangelism without the messiness and effort? Time for a wake up call; the chances of that happening are slim to none and we need to face that fact in a hurry.

Let’s go back to the beginning of this thought entirely. The spreading of the gospel is said to start with a relationship and therefore we are advised to get to know our neighbors, co-workers and friends who are far from God in order to share with them about our hope. There is truth in that, believe me, and I do not want to deter you from that truth. However, let’s take a look at scripture for a moment. In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus called his first four disciples to join him. All we have to draw from these verses is that Jesus simply called them to follow him in order to be fishers of men. We do not get a glimpse into the emotion, banter, dialogue or possible doubts and/or hesitation that filled the moment, primarily from the 4 men who were called. However, consider this; if someone called out to you to drop what you were doing and follow, what would your response be? Jesus probably didn’t yell at the men in an angry tone, to be sure, but He must have been convincing. There must have been something about Him that led those 4 men to make the choice they did. Do you suppose Jesus introduced Himself first? There must have been some sort of introduction, right?

Given that we have to read something into these passages, I am led to believe that Jesus was probably a fairly positive individual. As we read further into His ministry, we find this to be true and in fact, we find no negativity in Him whatsoever (although maybe a hint of frustration at times). What Jesus possessed is something we call assertiveness but He was also very positive in the way He spoke to His disciples and also the crowds. In order for Him to be effective in His approach, He had to possess an immense air of positivity and assertiveness, all before He spoke a single word. Jesus indeed had all that and more because of the authority He was given from the Father. What we fail to recognize at times is that we too possess the same attributes because they have been given to us as gifts by the Holy Spirit.

What does this mean in regards to the spreading of the gospel? Before we even introduce ourselves to someone, we have to possess an air of positivity and assertiveness. In order for us to do that, we must pray for discernment and seek to listen and wait for promptings from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will indeed lead us, even with the right words to say, but we must be willing in mind and body to be used by God for these works. And the first step is not to wait inside the 4 walls of a church building for a supposed lost soul to be introduced to us. Instead, we must be prepared to project an air of positivity to the world around us at all times; prompting conversations from strangers that want to know the reason for our joy.

If you still don’t know what this looks like, imagine walking into every room, every day, for the rest of your life, with a huge smile on your face and a spring in your step. You might think it’s goofy but here’s where I ask you, what on earth are you here for? Those lost souls are going to stay lost unless we choose to take some bold steps of faith for the kingdom. We have been called to be light to dark places and even if where you work is a “dark place”, that might be your best place to shine. The hope that is inside of you needs to be visible outside of you, too. And when that happens, people will want to know why.

The hope within you should be all the introduction you need in order to begin a conversation with someone far from God. Positivity is contagious, more so than the opposite and this world is ready for a reason to smile.

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