Why I Don’t Evangelize
I was asked the other day, “Are you one of those evangelical Christians?”
I immediately didn’t know how to answer and thought I am, but I don’t want to be…? Wait that came out wrong! Umm… I mean, I want you to know about Jesus but I don’t want you to know some of the ways my people go about this…? Oh crap! I’m not ashamed of my people, but I am… “My people!” Wait! This is sounding like a cult! I give up!!!
This conflict in my head led me to the Bible to find how Jesus explained evangelism. What I found was: He didn’t.
In fact, Jesus doesn’t once use the word “evangelism” or any variation of the word. This word that labels political camps, denominations, churches, and even people is never once uttered by the founder of the religion. Also, “evangelism” is loaded with negative connotations, and unnecessary political affiliations. So why do people use the term, “evangelism” when we struggle to even define it?
Because love has lost its definition as well.
In most evangelistic churches, when we talk about loving someone it’s assumed love is passive, flimsy, and intangible where “evangelism” is active, heroic, and quantifiable. ”Love is that warm fuzzy, Chicken Noodle Soup For The Soul Volume 84, emotional thing but evangelism is what the church is really about!” Some church leaders think. Many evangelicals assume Christians that merely love others somehow water down the gospel but what if love (in its correct definition) is the gospel? What if creating an additional word merely helps us feel superior to others and makes others feel like a project?
Jesus never needed to come up with an additional word for his followers because he was busy defining love instead. For Jesus, love is enough. He never once told them, “Go into a town and evangelize” or “Hey, that was a pretty sweet evangelistic event you put on Peter!” No of course not! Jesus didn’t have to. Instead, Jesus talked a lot about being a good neighbor, caring for the needy, and even sacrificing your life for others. He continually models, shares stories, and teaches a definition of love. He even died on a cross as a final explanation of love that leaves me speechless. After all, God didn’t define himself as “God is evangelistic” but he confidently announces “God is love.” (1). No other words are necessary.
Love passionetly pursues.
Love extravagantly does. (2)
Love boldy speaks.
Love graciosly invites.
Love generously shares.
Love is “evangelical.”
How about we lay down this negatively charged word that Jesus never bothered with in the first place and the next time someone asks us, “Are you one of those evangelistic Christians?”
Confidently reply, “I’m one of those loving ones.”
1. 1 John 4:8
2. For much more on this, I highly recommend Love Does by Bob Goff. An inspirational read that reminded me of the definition of love.