The question was simple enough: Why don’t you share the gospel?
My answer was simple, as well. I work at a church. I don’t have kids old enough to be in team sports so I’m never around non-believers. There are two other pastors on my side of a very short street. Yes, I want to share the gospel, but I find my opportunities few and far between.
This does not mean I’m not ready to share the gospel. I’m always trying to get an in. I’m a model customer at coffee shops. I’m polite to the baristas, often engaging them beyond the basic order of the day. I read my Bible in public. I don’t cuss at anyone (out loud) and when the opportunity presents itself, I always open the door for others.
But still. That’s not sharing the gospel.
I was ready with my pat answer until another girl shared. She is one of those people who shares the gospel continually. She brings her neighbors to church and goes out of her way to engage people in the margins. I wasn’t looking forward to her answer. It was going to be like hearing skinny people talk about how they should eat less kale – for the calories.
“For me, it always becomes a question of motive. I mean, what’s really my motivation for sharing the gospel?” she said.
She looked down at the table and everyone nodded and said “Mmm” in agreement in that self-effacing low Christian mumble.
Except for me. I didn’t “Mmm.” I was thinking about the question she hadn’t really posed. What is my motivation for sharing the gospel?
As I thought about the question, my immediate answer was: I should.
My base-level motivation for wanting to share the gospel is that I should. I should want to share the gospel. I should be obedient.
That’s a horrible motivation for doing anything. If my only motivation for sharing the gospel is that I should, then there is something incredibly broken in me. Christianity is not a should religion.
As I have since been bothered by my answer, one prayer has been continual. I want God to create in me an overflowing joy in him. That should be my motivation for sharing the gospel. God’s glory should give me such a sense of thankful and awe-filled joy that regardless of circumstance or interaction, what naturally spills over is the joy of God my Father and his salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ.
My deficiency, I realize, is not that I don’t know enough tactics, read enough evangelism books, or even spend time around the right people. If I want to reap the dividends of gospel proclamation, that is not the only place I need to invest. Sadly, those are the wells I have often solely relied on to scratch my I should itch of sharing the gospel while ignoring a deeper need.
Instead of letting my guilt drive my desire for evangelism, I am choosing to invest in worship. Instead of rehearsing a gospel pitch during my morning walk, I am choosing to stop every once in awhile and look at the stars as I recall Psalm 8 and 19. I am praying for my neighbors. I am filling my mind with songs that celebrate gospel truth and refresh me with wave after wave of truth about who Jesus Christ is and what he has done for a sinner like me. I am reading books about the nature of God that I may be in awe of his unfathomable greatness. As John Piper said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” I want to be satisfied in God. Only then will my evangelistic efforts have right motivation and direction.
Don’t get me wrong – if you are a Christian, you should be sharing the gospel. If you struggle with the how of sharing the gospel, there are many great strategies and paradigms for gospel-explanation and I have personally benefitted from many of them. What I have discovered, however, is I am often guilty of neglecting the why of sharing the gospel. I must check myself to make sure I have not forgotten my first love.
I want to be obedient to God, but I can share the words of the gospel and still be disobedient. Christianity is first and foremost a restored relationship. That is where I am disobedient – the relationship, not the requirement.
What the church needs most is not just a program or process to get more people in the pews (though they can be helpful), but the continually outflowing plea of starving beggars telling other starving beggars where they have found a feast that never runs out.
Let us fill each other with that and watch the levies overflow with joyful proclamation.