“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” – 1 Peter 3:14-16
Last weekend, I spent a lot of time in prayer over the issue of evangelism. I listened to a lot of teaching and read books on the subject. I slowly acknowledged that straight-up evangelism (i.e., telling someone the story of the Gospel) was not necessarily every Christian’s call, and that I had thought “too highly of myself” and the task of evangelism.
For some are called “to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” Both evangelism and “making disciples” are an equal part of the Great Commission. While every Christian should be able to give an account for the hope that is in him, we are not all called to be evangelists.
I didn’t want this acknowledgement to make me lazy in the task of evangelism, but I had to admit that to be a witness for Christ was to testify, when He and His teachings are “on trial,” as a witness to His work in my life. When I am in the presence of false accusations against Christ and Christianity, it is my duty to stand up for Christ.
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” – Mark 8:38
But if no such false accusations are present, then my attitude should be to look for opportunities to share the Gospel, but to also be keenly aware of how my words, attitude and behavior bare witness to those around me, as well. In this way, my life is a witness to Christ. Christians are constantly being witnesses for Christ, regardless of what they’re saying or who they’re with—simply by the lives they lead. If verbal evangelism is not present, then surely our lives tell the watching world of Christ’s work of salvation.
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” – Titus 2:7-8
However, if we lack both verbal evangelism and non-verbal evangelism, then it is safe to say there is no Christ in our lives to bare witness to.
The Friendship of J.
Prior to meeting with J. on Monday night, I had become very nervous and conflicted over my evangelistic strategy. I had previously been determined to share the Gospel with her that night. But as I had begun seeking God’s direction, I became more open to the idea of letting my “light shine before her” and simply showing her Christ’s love through my actions.
Part of the brokenness I see in J.’s life is how little she values herself and how that affects the way she allows others to treat her poorly. Above all else, I wanted to treat her the way Christ sees her—as individually valuable. That was the theme of the evening. Whether it was holding an umbrella over her, as we walked to the car, or buying her an expensive dinner at Clyde’s—I wanted her to feel valued. And maybe one day, I’ll be able to explain to her where that value comes from.
As the evening came to a close, it was important for me to show her that she didn’t need to do anything to earn the favor she received. It was freely given—as is Christ’s love. We went back to her apartment after dinner for a drink and to watch “The Office,” but I was very cordial and left immediately afterwards.
The evening turned out well—albeit slightly different from what I had intended. Once I got home, I breathed a sigh of relief and went straight to bed. …But not before going into my bathroom and throwing up.
The Departure of M.
M. is the hardest working person in my office. M. is the quietest person in the office. He is ignored by upper management and is passed over for promotions time and time again. M. puts me to shame in both patience and work ethic. He is not a Christian, but he lives out the call of Christ to “be perfect.” More so than I. I admire him a lot.
I’ve tried to be as good a worker as he, so that I wouldn’t tarnish the name of Christ through my apathetic performance in the office. But I always fall short of M.’s example. So, instead, I try my best with my work and show Christ’s love to M. by being a positive and trustworthy friend in the office. Although he’s used to eating his lunch in his cube, I’ve been inviting him to join me for lunch in the cafeteria and at local restaurants. We also went to two rock concerts together last month.
While we ate lunch in the cafeteria on Tuesday, he told me he had accepted a job in McLean and was leaving Sprint Nextel. He said I was the first to know. I felt honored that he wanted to tell me first, but I was also sad that I only had two more weeks to hang out with him. I told him I was happy for him, and he thanked me for my encouragement.
I imagine I will be hanging out with M. a lot in the coming weeks. And I hope I can continue to apply the methods of evangelism I’ve been considering here. In M.’s case, there is a two-week end point. But with other people in my life, I don’t have a clearly defined time span to influence them. The next time I see them could be the last.