Personal evangelism: How do you look at others?

You’ve heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” right?

So how do you know if the person you are talking to is heaven-bound or if they have never heard the Gospel message in their life?

Wouldn’t you like to be able to tell?

Would it affect the way you interacted with them?

I began thinking about this after two separate (but similar) incidents happened to me in one week. First, two men on bikes stopped me on my walk with the girls to talk with me about religion. I was wearing a Vacation Bible School T-shirt that had a large cross on the back of it. So in my mind I’m thinking, “Can’t you tell I’ve already heard the Good News?” But after they left, I started to think whether a VBS T-shirt was “proof” that I am a believer? What about a cross? If the person you’re talking with is wearing a cross necklace, does that prove that they know Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior? Should we make that assumption and go on about our business believing all is well with them?

The second thing that happened was that two ladies stopped by my house also wanting to question my religious beliefs and share with me their views. I found myself bothered by the fact that they seemed to talk to me as if I was lost. I was offended! I didn’t realize how ridiculous that was until I was sharing it with a friend and he asked me how they were supposed to know that I was a believer? “Were you looking especially holy that day?” he said. I had never thought of it that way.

The more I pondered this the more convicted I was. Here were people going door to door with the assumption that the person who answers the door could be lost and possibly had never heard the Gospel and they were ready and willing to share it. And here I am having contact with people daily and assuming they are all saved unless they do or say something that tells me differently. These are two radically different perspectives, and, depending on which one we choose, could produce radically different conversations!

The worst part about this realization is that this is exactly what happened in my own life. I should know better! I was 28 when I heard the Gospel message for the first time. I knew Christians along the way, but they all assumed I knew the truth and was choosing not to follow. One friend in particular was shocked when she had heard about my conversion and said, “You didn’t know? I thought everyone knew?” If you’ve been raised in the church it is easy to take for granted that everyone else was as well, but that is not the case. I am living proof.

To assume means to take for granted without proof. To take someone’s eternity for granted without any proof is kind of a dangerous thing to do, don’t you think? Especially when the Bible is so clear about our marching orders:

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”–2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NIV)

Paul says we have a job, a title even–we are ambassadors. An ambassador is an official representative of a king or ruler. We are to tell others how to be reconciled to God. Reconciliation is the process by which God and people are brought together. God is holy, people are sinful, so we are separated. God reconciled us by sending His son Jesus Christ to be our perfect sacrifice and pay the penalty for us. When we understand and accept that we are believers and we are to become involved in the work of sharing this Good News with others “as if God were making His appeal through us.” And isn’t it glorious work? Isn’t this something we should be delighted to share? To shout from the rooftops even?

But it’s more pleasant to assume everyone is fine, isn’t it? We prefer to believe that all of our friends, co-workers, neighbors, even acquaintances are saved and will join us in heaven someday. Let’s not be deceived, there are those who haven’t heard. I pray no one will ever look at me and say “why didn’t you tell me?”

How do you look at others? Is a cross on their necklace enough to stop you from discussing spiritual matters? The point is we can’t judge a book by it’s cover; we can’t know a person’s spiritual status by their outward appearance. But we can share the truth–every chance we get–with every person God puts in our path, with all the passion and excitement we had when we heard it for the first time ourselves.

So, let me ask you: Are you involved in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Does that relationship change your life every single day?
Have you talked with Him today? Who do you know who may have never heard the Gospel? Will you pray for God to open a door of opportunity to share with that person?

 

 

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