Thursday, January 18, 2018


Perhaps I am a bit anal, but I am thankful that we have a God who makes use of everything we bring to Him.

Here's what I mean. I need to resolve all of my theological issues before I can take a confident step in the area of evangelism, especially when it pertains to the question of  "friendship evangelism" (FE).

Questions about FE are on the cutting edge as we now live in a society which is increasingly hostile to Christianity and has contempt for the Gospel. As a result, we find ourselves living on the defensive and resorting to defensive measures. Therefore, it is now common to hear people say, "Evangelize always, and use words only when necessary," or "You need to earn the right to be heard."

Underlying these statements is the belief that no one will listen unless we first prove to them that we love them - hence, FE.

This strategy has sent me into a theological tsunami, resulting in a rethinking of the Gospel and reaffirming certain principles, in particular, the very bedrock of our faith. Someone had asked Jesus about the greatest commandment in the Law:

  • And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)

This teaching establishes our number one priority. It informed me that the Christian life is about our devotion to our Savior before any evangelistic strategies or any pragmatic considerations.

But how must we honor our Lord?

  • By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3 ESV)

How then do I love others and show them the Gospel? Simply by following its teachings! This meant that I couldn't resort to the benign deception of FE - presenting myself as their friend rather than as God's ambassador. Besides, this would keep me perched on the moral high-ground by presenting myself accurately.

This doesn't require me to forsake the idea of friendship, but it does require me to present myself faithfully. If instead I waited to establish a friendship, it would become difficult to later swing into evangelistic high-drive. It would also not seem genuine to my "friend."

There was also another question that i had to put to rest - What actually saves? Could I love my "friend" into the Kingdom? Could I woe him with my Christian character or sufficiently impress him with my virtue?

Such thinking was imposing an unnecessary weight upon me, which was eventually lifted by this verse:

  • 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. (Romans 1:16)

While it is true that our lives should speak the same message of God's love as does the Gospel, ultimately, it is only the Gospel that saves through the work of the Holy Spirit.

What a relief! It is God who does the heavy-lifting, not me. I am merely the messenger, a mere midwife of the new life God was already forming in the womb. However, I am called upon to faithfully handle the seed He has entrusted to us.

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