“Evangelism”, “evangelist”, and “evangelizing” are words that can get a bum rap, can’t they? I mean, on one hand, evangelism can come off fake and hypocritical. Yet on the other, it IS the “great commission” we are all lovingly called to as Christians. But it can seem so daunting, right?
One of the greatest things Rick Warren tells us in the closing chapters of The Purpose Driven Life is that evangelism simply means sharing your own love of Jesus with other people. Now THAT I can do! How about you?
Not sure yet? Check this out:
Have you read the book in the Bible called Nehemiah? It’s an Old Testament book that chronicles the life of the prophet Nehemiah. Now, there’s a lot of history and background about this guy that is pretty interesting, but the gist of this story is this:
After the exiles returned to Jerusalem, the main temple was rebuilt. But the wall around Jerusalem wasn’t. This was a pretty big deal because it was in a state of total disrepair, and left the city open to attack and pillage (isn’t that a wackily fun word to say?!). You see, the state of a city’s wall represented power, protection, and beauty. To have the wall rebuilt would be a huge help in protecting the temple and ensure the continuity of worship there.
Now, Nehemiah was not a resident of Jerusalem, although his father and his father’s family were. Nehemiah himself was actually a high servant of a king who ruled over the Persian Empire. He was living in another town called Susa at the time (about 445 BC). A friend from Jerusalem came to visit and told him about the disarray and this really weighed heavily on Nehemiah.
He asked the King for sort of a “sabbatical” to go take care of things because he felt God placed a vision and call on his heart to go and organize the people of the city to rebuild it. The King granted him time away and told him that if he felt it was from God, he definitely should go.
Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and began to inspire and encourage the residents (each according to their abilities, station in life, and talents) to rebuild the wall together. And low and behold, a mere 52 days later, the entire wall was expertly rebuilt. There was opposition, of course, but the wall WAS rebuilt in an unprecedentedly short amount of time – one that shook their enemies to the core because they realized the only way it could’ve been done was by the help of God and everyone doing their part.
My favorite part of the story has to do with the priests who were working on the wall. Nehemiah instructed them to start by repairing the section right in front of where they lived.
Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house. Nehemiah 3:28, NLT
No worrying about the enormity of repairing the entire city wall. No worrying about how big this job was going to get or how long it would take. Just “think about what’s right in front of you. And when you finish, help your neighbor. Do what you can. Today. And then tomorrow? Well, do what you can tomorrow.”
(Photo and artwork: courtesy Tammy Miller, 2016!)
I want you to try something. Image you are sitting at a round table with 8 or 10 other people. Now envision everyone standing up and making a circle around your table. (I love this image because we can see each other’s faces and it reminds us of being able to stand shoulder to shoulder in support.)
Now imagine everyone turning and facing OUTWARD. At this point, you see only what’s in front of you, and maybe just a smidgen of what your neighbor sees. THIS was Nehemiah’s goal: to get people to focus on what was right in front of them and to then get to work on that.
That’s a pretty brilliant idea, if you ask me. Because, this way, the task at hand doesn’t seem daunting; instead it seems doable.. And in the doing, we each strengthen the Kingdom.
Do what you’ve been called to do, authentically, right-smack-dab wherever you are. That authentically piece is important. Your “story” is vital to you reaching others.
Be the one who builds the connection to the heart of another. Bring Jesus to someone else and bring someone else to Jesus. For me, THAT’S evangelism. Not reciting some fancy, pre-planned speech or inviting everyone you meet to go to church with you on Sunday (not that those are bad things… 😉 ). Evangelism is simply lovingly extending yourself in your own “front yard” (and even beyond!) as an outward sign of Christ’s love for people everywhere. Can you do that? I bet you can!
Are you following along with our on purpose series? Would it surprise you to know we only have ONE week left?!? It’s true! So here’s what you need to do this week to FINISH STRONG (you’ve come this far, keep it up!):
- Read Days 36-42 in The Purpose Driven Life
- Complete Week 9 in the Inspiration/Scripture Booklet
- Watch this video of EVERYONE’S favorite song from this session, “Breathe” by Johnny Diaz!
Check back next week as we wrap up this series! It’s been a honor and pleasure to walk it with you!
Peace, love, and JOY!