There’s a quote that has often been attributed to Saint Francis of Assissi that says, “Preach the gospel; if necessary, use words”. Well that sounds nice, except we can’t even verify that Saint Francis ever said those things, let alone believed them. Second, that’s not how Jesus taught us to evangelize, and certainly not what the gospel is about. The Gospel produces joy for good works, and is always the root to our witness. Yes, do good works and be a witness, but don’t forget what made you a witness: the testimony of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, raising us to life in Him.
What happened tonight proved that the power was in Christ, not in people: The past month I’ve had the opportunity to evangelize to almost a dozen people and share with them the gospel. There was the instance at MacDonalds where a family’s van broke down, the Agnostic who came to a youth event at my church, and other circumstances formed beyond my control. The humor here is that I have never initiated those times of evangelism, it was my friend Abraham, nudging me and pushing me to do what God has called all believers to do. Now when a guys car breaks down, it’s second nature to be prepared to bring up Jesus somehow. Only tonight was a bit different. Let me explain:
A few hours ago, Abraham and I had the chance to share the gospel with a man whose truck broke down on the side of the road. It’s a mess and missing the bumper, gets terrible mileage, etc. As we are pulling into a parking lot to jump his truck, another guy pulls in to help with the situation. As we get ready to leave, I was prepared to share a quick “Jesus cares about you” before he left, but God had other plans: Abraham asks the guy if he knows Jesus, he replies “yes”, though we heard a great assembly of cursing several minutes earlier from him. Then the guy next to me, whom I had never met before, asks the man if he can pray for him: yep, three Christians stopped on the side of the road to help this guy. How awesome?
After we prayed for his travel, the guy asks the owner of the truck if he’s been born again: he said, “yep”. Then the guy who prayed asks him, “what do you think it means to be ‘born again'”? What ensued was a full on presentation of the gospel message. We told him about sin, God’s wrath, salvation in Christ, repentence, faith that produces good works, a daily walk, and why Jesus matters for everything. In other words, we backed up our witness by our actions, but God was glorified because we testified to what God has done, not what we can do.
The man did not break down crying, he did not cry out to Jesus tonight but it did effect him, and you could see it in his eyes as he thanked us. Our hope is that he will come to Church and hear the gospel again. This could happen because his son wants to be a Pastor and his wife claims to walk with Jesus. I don’t know what’s going to happen to him tomorrow, but I know that God is in charge of the garden, we’re called to plant the seed. Trust him with the word, not the word with ourselves. That’s my encouragement to you tonight: whatever you do, share the gospel with people. Your actions are not enough, your words testify to what your actions mean. Don’t waste an opportunity, seize the moment, and trust the Divine gardener to tend the word, and plant!
Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”