Rebuilding Our Witness (Part 2): Developing an Understanding of the Connection of Love & Evangelism in Light of Our New Political Climate
In Part 1, I talked about why we are at a time when we need to step back and assess how we view the world and the lens we apply to all that we see and do. I talked about a Christian worldview that holds in one hand the Great Commandment and in the other the Great Commission. It’s a worldview that embraces a love of God and a love of others above even ourselves.
Recently, we have seen many ways in which these two elements have broken down. Many Evangelicals have acted and said things over the past months that have not conveyed a belief that God is in, over, and through all things (Eph. 4:6). Many have also not sought to place the needs of others above themselves. It has been a disheartening time for the Church in many respects.
And yet here we are. We have a witness problem.
As we consider the Christian worldview that holds the Great Commandment—to love God—and the Great Commission—to love others—together, it is imperative that we view evangelism—proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ—as a core component of our daily lives.
Six months ago, I came to Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism due in no small part to my belief that the Church has dropped the ball when it comes to showing and sharing the love of Jesus in our broken world. As I like to say, evangelism has fallen on hard times.
John Stott once said, “The nations are not gathered in automatically. If God has promised to bless ‘all the families of the earth,’ He has promised to do so ‘through Abraham’s seed’ (Gen. 12:3; 22:18). Now we are Abraham’s seed by faith, and the earth’s families will be blessed only if we go to them with the gospel.”
An authentic Christian worldview does not ignore evangelism, nor does it push it to the periphery of the Christian life. Instead, evangelism is at the heart of how we see the world. Our world is broken, and people are without Jesus. Not a day goes by when we don’t pass people who need Jesus, who need a listening ear or a helping hand.
The words of the late missiologist and President of Columbia Bible College and Seminary, Robertson McQuilkin, rightly challenge us:
When all has been said that can be said on this issue (of the lost), the greatest remaining mystery is not the character of God nor the destiny of lost people. The greatest mystery is why those who are charged with rescuing the lost have spent two thousand years doing other things, good things, perhaps, but have failed to send and be sent until all have heard the liberating word of life in Christ Jesus. The lost condition of human beings breaks the Father’s heart. What does it do to ours?
The Christian worldview that we embrace has a heart that breaks for those around us who don’t know Jesus. That is the first step: actually caring that those around us aren’t in His family. The outworking of the Great Commandment to love God is that as we worship Him and spend time with Him, our hearts will grow more and more like His. Our eyes will begin to see things they didn’t before.
This moves us towards actually embracing the second step: doing something about the fact that those around us don’t know Jesus. We are compelled to then make sure they hear about Jesus, and are shown the love of Jesus.
A Christian worldview embraces time with Christian friends. But it never does so to the neglect of seeking opportunities to love the non-Christian and tell him or her about Jesus.
And it’s time that we view evangelism as a calling for every one of us, not just leaders and pastors. John Mott once said, “It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.”
That, my friends, is what a Christian worldview looks like. It is demonstrated through our passion in calling the lost to repentance. Our witness is broken, and it’s time we got it right.
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.