The Work of Christ and an Identity of Relentless Evangelism
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Stitzinger is the director of the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization at Southern Seminary. The Bevin Center trains and mobilizes the Southern Seminary community for evangelism, missions and church planting from the City of Louisville, Ky., to the ends of the earth.
Evangelism is simple, but it’s costly. Finding and telling unbelievers about Christ is not complicated, but it often comes at the cost of relational ease and tranquility. Jesus warned that a servant is not above his master, and Jesus’ own calls for people to repent and believe resulted in his death.
The relational challenges to evangelism – not to mention the challenges presented by the domain of darkness and indwelling sin – often prevent Christians from living a life saturated with evangelism. Overcoming these challenges requires supernatural power.
To start, Christians must cultivate evangelistic instincts that compel them toward unbelievers, and they must develop a humble tenacity that is willing to engage in conversations that go beyond the point of least resistance and move toward the gospel. The Great Commission is not fulfilled in silence, but in conversations that confront ungodliness and unrighteousness with the kindness of God that leads to repentance (Rom 2:4). To do anything less would be to neglect Christ’s commission.
Christians can begin developing these instincts by considering their identity. If you’re a Christian, you need to throw off any tendency to live as an incognito Christian; stop living as a sheep in wolves clothing attempting to blend in with your surroundings, and embrace your identity as an ambassador of Christ (2 Cor 5:20). The gospel is confrontational, and that can make situations uncomfortable, but it’s too important to let discomfort keep us from obedience. Speak the gospel with clarity and authority, and rest in the Spirit’s power to save.
The place to begin a life of evangelism is right where you are. God, in his sovereign grace, chose to place you where you are. The unbelievers around you – in your neighborhood, in your family and at work – are not there by accident. So what step will you take to engage them with the gospel, even if it means relational unease? It’s not enough merely to talk about your unbelieving neighbors, you must talk with them and help them see that only Christ can forgive sin and reconcile sinners to God. Every unbeliever in your life should know you’re a Christian and have an opportunity to respond to the gospel.
The apostle Paul told the Corinthians that he delivered to them “as of first importance what [he] also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3). For you to do faithful evangelism, the gospel must be of first importance to you. Only then will you
overcome the challenges that have prevented you from boldly sharing the gospel with unbelievers.
So embrace the gospel, embrace your identity as an ambassador of Christ, embrace the cost of an evangelistic lifestyle and look forward to seeing the work Christ will do in and through you, to his glory.