I have come to a new understanding of evangelism this week. My husband has been out actively evangelizing as part of a class assignment for Liberty University. While watching his efforts, God was able to rid my soul of some residual religious garbage. I tend to categorically reject Ray Comfort style evangelism because of its formulaic method. I understood what he was trying to do, but his heavy-handed use of guilt always bothered me. There is a big difference between the Spirit convicting you of sin and the manipulative use of religious guilt.
My husband talked to all kinds of different people—but one young man really stood out in my mind. We have been praying for this particular individual’s salvation as a family for over a year. When Adam talked with him, this kid stated with the arrogance of youth, that he did not feel that he needed saving. You see, this kid was a good person. He didn’t sin. He did not engage in activity that harmed others. Oh to be young and self-righteous again. 🙂
I have heard this definition of sin many times before from atheists and secular humanists. It amuses me every time. Can you imagine Confucius or Plato defining right action or justice in this way? I think they would define sin as failure to perform the right action in the right way at the right time. That would be closer to Christianity.
To be fair, no one can see themselves. That is why God put us in a body so that with the help of others, we can see what we are like. But for a minute, let’s take what the kid said at face value. I find it interesting that this definition never includes self-harm. Do you engage in activity that harms yourself? Do you worry? Do you have anxiety? Do you wallow in depression? Do you have trouble with anger? Those are all harmful to you. We do not have the right to harm ourselves because our life is not self-generating. It was a gift entrusted to us. So of course this person engages in sin, even by his own definition (if it is properly expanded to include himself).
This would be where Ray Comfort would start showing someone the law and pointing out their sin. There is a place for that, but we do not have to even mention someone’s sin when sharing Christ. Adam’s response really struck me. He just told the kid that his unbelief was sin because the kid knew that God existed and he refused to acknowledge Him. That was both Scriptural and appropriate. That was how Jesus witnessed to Nicodemus in John 3. It brought to mind John 16:8-11. “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
What I began to realize was that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it from sin (John 3:17). It is not important that people see all their sins. In fact, it is impossible. God shields us from this. It is only important that people see their need for Jesus. In John 3, Jesus does not tell Nicodemus about his sins, He tells him that the only way to see the kingdom of God is to believe in Him.
There is a strong voice in Christianity that tells us to avoid the health and wealth gospel. Unfortunately this voice is often responsible for making us faithless. It keeps us from honoring God by acknowledging Him in every area of need. Scripture tells us that calling on God first for help when we are in need, is how we thank Him for his goodness to us (Psalm 116:12-13). Remembering the acts of the Lord and his benefits is a constant refrain in Scripture.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:2-5
This would seem to encourage us to reach out to unbelievers whenever they see their need for Jesus whether it is in their marriage, their finances, their health, or whatever.
I am challenged to be more faithful in bringing all my needs to God and really experiencing that He is the only and best answer. As I live that more, I will be able to confidently bring Jesus to the needs of others whether believer or unbeliever.
Very recently, Locust & Honey has teamed up with Roman Catholic author, Mike Freze, to develop some of his written works into audio books. Our most recent collaborative release concerns visions and revelations about various states of the soul in the after-life.