I had a great lunch conversation yesterday with Bruce Black, the Pulpit Minister for the Fairfax Church of Christ. One of the things we were talking about was the way our congregations, the Fairfax Church of Christ and the Columbia Church of Christ, are seeking to be more intentional about engaging our communities with the gospel. That, of course, means learning to become more evangelistic.
As we were talking, it was observed that one of the challenges for many Christians, including ourselves, is knowing how to live in and among an unchristian world without being like that Christian world. Perhaps you might recall hearing it said that Christians are called to be “in the world but not of it.” Well, that is the challenge.
Then last night, in my house church gathering, we were talking about becoming more evangelistic too. Our conversation involved discussing the conversion of Lydia and her household (Acts 16.11-15). It was observed how the Apostle Paul had a knack for discovering where God was already at work and then joining God in that work…hence, finding some women who were seekers of God.
That observation raised a question: how do we discover those places where God is already working, where there are people already seeking God but have yet to hear the gospel? In pondering this question, another observation was made: we are more likely to discover those places and people when we are living as faithful Christians. Yes! Because people seeking God see the light existing among those living a faithful Christians and God uses that to opens doors…creates opportunities.
This all means that faithful Christian living is a a prerequisite for evangelism!!! But here are a few things to consider about this prerequisite. Faithful Christian living…
- Does not mean living as though we constantly have it all together. Do you feel me? We need to live authentically. That means not pretending as though we are without our own struggles, fears, doubts, questions, frustrations, etc… We are still humans living a life where there is “groaning” (cf. Rom 8.22) and sometimes our best witness to seekers who also are living a life of groaning is to be open and real about this groaning.
- Includes paying attention what sort of conversations we invest our time in. From where I sit, too many Christians are great parrots of cable news (i.e., CNN, FOX, etc…) and politics…all at the expense of the gospel. Just scroll through your Facebook feed and you will see what I mean (and yes, I have been guilty of this too at times). How can we be witnesses for Jesus when we are preoccupied with everything but the gospel?
- Is the absence of hypocrisy. If there is one way to kill our evangelistic witness, it is to be found with a discrepancy between what we say and what we do. So let me get specific. As Christians, we cannot say that we follow Jesus if our lives do not resemble the life Jesus lived. Jesus proclaimed and lived by a specific set of beliefs and values and we must learn to embrace those same beliefs and values in our lives, otherwise we are hypocrites.