Every year millions of people worldwide decide to make plans for the future, they set resolutions that they hope to live by in the coming year. Normally, I don't go into these New Year resolutions (as I'll end up breaking them), but for 2012 I decided it would be good if I could set some ‘evangelistic resolutions'. But before I set any plans in stone I sat down for a time of self-examination, I decided it would be
wise to examine my evangelistic ministry over the past nine years and to find out where exactly I was lacking. As I didthis I found much to my horror that I had been guilty of making evangelism into an event, and not a lifestyle.
What do I mean by that? Well, I don't mean "lifestyle evangelism" (wrong use of the term evangelism) where I sit around and make friends, and invite people over for a non-confrontational barbecue and rarely ever share the Gospel. I'm not talking about those forms of "evangelism" (again, bad use of the word) where people make friends but never open their mouth for Jesus. But, what I am talking about is making evangelism into a daily lifestyle, that is to say, each day I should be on the lookout for opportunities to speak of Jesus and to declare His Majesty.
For far too long, I had slipped into the mindset that evangelism was something I did on the weekend where I would stand on a box and hold an open air meeting. Or where, I would arrange a special outreach to go hand out tracts and talk to people. While, these events are good, and should be done, they must never become our only source of Gospel witness.
So as 2012 rolled around I committed to being more evangelistic in my day to day life. Each day, I want to look for openings in which I can talk of Jesus, to preach Jesus, or even hand out a tract for Jesus. Basically, I want to tell of Jesus everyday!
While that is my commitment the reality is I haven't always been successful, even though we are only entering the second month of 2012 there have been days in which I have failed miserably in talking about Jesus. But by God's grace I'm improving.
So why do I share this? Firstly, I share it because I know if I declare my commitment in public, then I am more likely follow through with it. Secondly, I share it, as I want to challenge you to make your life a life of evangelism. I want you to think about the opportunities you have each day to witness for Jesus.
To give an example, on the Sunday just gone, I had the privilege of spending all day in Sydney preaching the Gospel and equipping the Saints for the work of ministry, and as the day ended I found myself very tired for the long drive back to Goulburn. About an hour out of Sydney, Thomas (my seven month old son) decided to do what babies do best, and that was fill his nappy. This resulted in us pulling over at a service station so he could be changed. When I pulled into the parking space at the fuel station I noticed a man of Middle Eastern descent sitting by himself on a chair at one end of the park. It was at that point that I was reminded that I had just spoken in Sydney about making evangelism a lifestyle, so instead of being a hypocrite I decided to go and talk to him. Now I'm the first to admit, that even though I have been doing evangelism now for many years, I still get nervous in walking up to a stranger and starting a conversation about Jesus, but I've also learnt to let my love for God swallow any fear I have for man, so I walked up to this gentleman and offered him a tract. He looked at me, then he looked down at the tract in my hand, he then slowly put out his cigarette and without a word reached out and took the tract form me. As he held the tract, he said, "What is this all about?" I replied, "It's a Gospel leaflet that talks about Jesus and how He alone is the hope of salvation." At that the man then tried to give the tract back to me telling me that he was a Muslim, to which I answered, "That's OK, this message is for all people of all religions." The man stopped, and said, "But I have a different understanding of the prophet Jesus." At this point the doors were open, and discussion followed. We spoke briefly about the differences between what Christianity says about Jesus, and what Islam says. And in the end I asked him, "Have you ever read the biography of Jesus?" The man (whose name is Abdul) replied that he hadn't. So I offered him a copy of the Gospel of John, to my surprise Abdul took the Gospel of John and said he'd read it.
All this flowed from a dirty nappy and Thomas needing to be changed. If Thomas hadn't decided to do his business then, I wouldn't have stopped and Abdul wouldn't have heard about Jesus. But also, Abdul wouldn't have heard about Jesus if I had left evangelism as a weekly event, the only reason Abdul heard was because evangelism has become a lifestyle of daily encounters.
Abdul is only one example, and if we all took the time to talk to people that we encounter each day, we would hear of many people learning of Jesus and of many coming to faith in Christ. Let me challenge you - How do you view evangelism, is it an event or a lifestyle?
Don't wait for a new year to resolve to make evangelism a daily thing, instead resolve now before God that you'll be a faithful witness everyday.