Evangelism in a Christianized Culture: How Perseverance Sustains Honest Evangelism?
When you see a beautiful mansion, what thoughts enter your mind? Do you imagine the cost, or admire its beauty? Since I come from a construction background, I think about the countless hours and the coordination of manpower that went into the its construction. Often several years and scores of laborers, went into the building’s planning and construction. No knowledgeable person would imagine that such an impressive structure was built in a moment by one individual, yet when we enter the spiritual realm, we expect instant results. In a practical world, we see that men need patience and coordination in construction, yet we expect evangelism and spiritual growth to happen in a moment by one individual. I like what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3,“Who is Paul, and Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase…we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” Paul likens ministry to construction and farming, and the way we build or farm determines the value of the final product. Ministry demands perseverance, and this need to persevere, leads us back to our dependence upon God. Saints must present Biblical truth; especially the gospel in love, meekly, humbly, gently, patiently, and without hypocrisy which is impossible apart from walking under the Spirit’s control and influence.
We have already approached motivation. Now, we will focus on the manner of ministry. Spirit-filled ministers will be longsuffering, gentle, meek, and controlled in their work. They will respond this way, because the Spirit produces this fruit in their lives. Once again, evangelism in a “Christianized” context intensifies the need to walk humbly under God’s control. In the “Christianized” context, people who are familiar with the Bible and gospel related terms are often very comfortable in their religious heritage. They believe that what they are doing is working for them, and when you present a unique message, they often do not recognize the fundamental distinctness of the message you preach.
How was Christ received by the religious leaders of his day? Was their knowledge of the Bible an asset or was it a liability. Those exposed to the most truth were Christ’s most violent adversaries. The Chief Priests and the Scribes were willing to lie and murder Christ in the most violent way possible to rid themselves of Christ and His message. Obviously not every “cultural Christian” will respond this way; however, that misapplied knowledge of the truth is a huge liability to someone’s willingness to embrace Christ alone. Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews must have been shocked by Christ’s statement “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” This great, respectable man must humble himself to depend solely upon Christ, or he, a teacher and ruler of the Jews, would die in his sins apart from God and miss the Kingdom for which he longed. Paul wrote in Philippians 3 that though he was circumcised the eighth day, an Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, a man consumed with miss zeal for God, and blameless in his law keeping. “He had to count all these things as loss for Christ so that he could be found in him, not having his own righteousness, by the law, but the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ.” Paul’s Jewish brethren in Romans 10, “had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” And in “ignorance of God’s righteousness, went about to establish their own righteousness,” in rebellion to the righteousness of God. These passages are pointedly descriptive of the religious unbeliever. The repentance that would accompany the conversion of men like Nicodemus, Paul, or Paul’s Jewish brethren would be a marvelous and truly remarkable thing. It is no small thing for a man whose life is consumed with a misappropriated application of truth to turn from empty religion to depend alone upon the work of Christ. I have learned that this work is often slow and as God reveals a man’s moral bankruptcy, he often responds in pride before he is broken in humility. When any evangelist begins work in any culture, especially the “Christianized culture,” it is critical that he approach his work with a long-term patience. His work will not be easy, requiring great patience, and s a “thick skin.” It will demand many gracious Spirit controlled responses. These aspects of the evangelist’s manner will only reflect a Biblical approach to evangelism if he is walking under the Spirit’s control and influence. By God’s grace let us purpose to walk under His control and influence, for “without Him we can do nothing!”