Of all the ministry slogans I’ve heard, my favourite must be YWAM’s ‘To Know God And Make Him Known’. We need to know Him so as to share His love for people. The question is, do we really know Him? And what does it mean to know Jesus?
Personally, there’s been a fresh hunger and renewed passion in my heart to know Jesus like never before. To fall in love with Him all over again. In two weeks, I watched 3 seasons and 24 episodes of ‘Chosen’ and re-read the four Gospels. All so that I can know Him more.
Living a life like Jesus must begin with being His student. This is the seed of discipleship. Contemporary Christian jargon has mistakenly, I believe, set up a dichotomy between discipleship and evangelism.
The heart of evangelism is about interacting with others like Jesus. He conversed all the time with those who thought they were close to God and those who deemed themselves lost and without hope. Yet, He invited all to learn from Him – it’s that simple. But often, we overcomplicate missional living and sharing the Gospel.
Jesus not only told us to make disciples but also modelled how to. I believe most Christians have divorced the teachings of Jesus from the methods, and yet expect the same results.
I believe His methods are just as divine as His teachings. He showed us that the fundamental methodology in making disciples is relationships grounded in truth and love. Our Lord is the greatest disciple-maker and evangelist in history, and His way works.
Paul said to the Colossians, “Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” Colossians 1:28. Notice he said, “I preach Christ,” not “I preach about Christ.”
We don’t just want to share true information about Christ; but present Him in the most compelling way we can so that they come to love Him, praise Him, trust Him and desire to know Him better.
All 66 books of the Bible are important and inspired by God. But two things are called ‘The Word’– the Bible and Jesus. All Scripture points to Him. I remember hearing a story about Charles Spurgeon debriefing his young intern preacher after the latter delivered a sermon.
Dr. Spurgeon told the young man that he did a great job but missed one key element. The young preacher asked what that was. He replied, “There was no Christ in your message, son. We preach Christ here at New Park Street Church.”
The intern was shocked. “But, sir,” he replied, “I was preaching from the book of Ezekiel.” Spurgeon responded, “Son, until you can find Christ in Ezekiel, you will not share my pulpit again.”
The Bible is but a signpost to the ultimate Word of God – Jesus the Christ.
To illustrate, here’s an interview excerpt between Carl Dedearis, a missionary in the Middle East, and his pre-believer friend, whom he asked, “When you think of the Person of Jesus, what first comes to mind?”
“The intrinsic value of all. Total forgiveness. Love. Kindness. Giving. One hundred percent positive! It’s the religion of Christianity that I don’t like – not Jesus,” he said.
“Can you think of anything in the way that I’ve approached you or spent time with you that makes you think I’m trying to evangelise or proselytise you into Christianity?”
“You’ve always been direct. I know where you stand. You ask a lot of really good questions, like ‘What if this or that were true?’ But no. I’ve never felt ‘evangelised’ by you in the negative sense of that word. That’s what I love about you and others I’ve met like you – I’m attracted to people who live the values they speak of and am repelled by those who don’t,” he replied.
“So you haven’t felt evangelised but have we spent time talking about Jesus?”
“Yes, all the time. And it’s always interesting. I know you respect me and I respect you. You’ve helped me understand things about Jesus that I’d not have otherwise. And you’ve also helped clarify the differences between Jesus and the negative things I’ve seen in Christianity,” he said.
In short, we’ve to learn how to engage people in the everyday moments and simple ways before we can enter the profound, life-giving implications.
Here are four simple ways Dedearis recommend in his book, ‘42 Seconds’, in our interaction with pre-believers:
1 – Be kind
2 – Be present
3 – Be brave
4 – Be like Jesus