“It's not that complicated.” How many times have you said this to someone? How many times has someone said it to you? If we're honesttoo many to count (on both accounts). Our ability to overthink and over-complicate our tasks is like spam for our productivity. Consider how free you feel when a task is simplified, steps are outlined, and a plan is in place.
Let's remember that our clutter is not limited to the task lists of business or the home. We often overcomplicate our most basic responsibilities as a Christian. Consider evangelism for example. Here are some of the things we say and do to complicate this:
What if I don't know what to say when I get a question?
I probably won't have enough time to talk with them.
I may offend them.
I need to get to know them better.
Soon, like Spam in our inbox, excuses begin piling up with secondary considerations and then, we are discouraged and disengaged. We are not faithfully evangelizing.
What do we need? We need a simplification. We need instruction and a model to help us.
Thankfully we have the Bible. Consider chapter 8 of Acts. Phillip is having a great day: preaching, healing, and otherwise bringing joy like an evangelistic UPS driver. In this scene he runs into an Ethiopian eunuch who “happened” to be reading from the prophet Isaiah (ch. 53). After hearing him reading he went up to him and then…
Wait, first of all, let's observe that our guy Philip, was refreshingly available and intentional. You might say, “How do you miss someone cruising around in a sled reading the prophet Isaiah?” Good point. But, if you don't see the opportunity, does that mean that it's not there? In other words, you wouldn't know if you saw or did not see something like this. It's my contention that many of us don't see (or hear) because we are not looking or listening. Philip was doing both; and God blessed him with a great opportunity. Let's not minimize the compounding impact of personal faithfulness (see chapter 8) in the flow of life: God blesses us with more opportunities. So, simplification #1, be intentional and available. Pray and watch (Ps. 5.5).
Now we come to the real simplification: "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus" (Acts 8.35).
Isn't this great? Like cleaning out your overstuffed closet or basement, this Scripture is like a breath of fresh, simplifying, decluttering truth!
Let's consider some more simplifying evangelistic truths.
Open Your Mouth
Sometimes we miss the obvious. Contrary to the perennially favorite quote tossed about by people who don't actually favor evangelism: “preach the gospel at all times but use words if necessary” you actually have to use words to preach. It's sorta like saying, “Breath at all times, use air when necessary.” Since the gospel is a word it needs to be spoken (1 Cor. 15.1-7).
This is our hang up. We need to open our mouth. The Christian church walks about with the duct tape of fear firmly placed over our mouths. We need to, for the sake of love, rip it off and open our mouths.
Axiom number one: we will open our mouths in correspondence with our love for God and our love for others. We need to open our mouths like lives depend upon it. Because they do.
Use the Bible
Again this is brilliant. We can get paralyzed because we don't know what to say. Here is the answer: use the Bible. Open up God's book and quote him.
This is another reason why it is so important to be daily reading and feeding yourself God's Word. You have got to keep a supply of food in your spiritual lunchbox, even if to enjoy yourself, but hopefully to share with others.
Here's an axiom: those who fast from personal Bible reading will fast from evangelism. Read the Bible and tell people what it says.
Tell People the Gospel
This goes with the first. Don't forget that the Gospel is in fact “good news”. You don't need a seminary degree to do this, simply being a Christian will do. Talk about how Jesus is the Savior (Acts 4:12). Tell them about how sin separates us from God (Rom. 3:23), that there are none who are righteous, not even 1 (Rom. 3:9-18). Explain how God lovingly sent Jesus (Jn. 3:16) to stand in our place and bear the penalty for our sin (1 Pet. 3:18) and bring us to God. Show them how God made the sinless one, to be sin (charged with the guilt, shame and penalty) on our behalf, so that we (the sinner) might be clothed in his righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Show them how you can be accepted in Christ by turning from sin to trust in the work of Christ for youwe can receive mercy and be in God's family through Christ (1 Pet. 2:10).
Here's another axiom: we won't tell people the good news until we actually believe that it is ourselves. When we get over our sin then we will get over God's grace. Wrestle with the Gospel like Jacob wrestled with the angeland don't let go until you are blessed! Then you'll be ready to tell people the good news like you believe it!
Some things are complicated, however, evangelism is not one of them. Be intentional and available and follow these steps: open you mouth, use the Bible, tell people the gospel. Then watch out…people might get saved! And you might become a crazy evangelist!