Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Thinking about Evangelistic Relationships


"We proclaim the gospel to the world so that they may be saved."

I remember the people who talked to me about the gospel before I became a Christian, and what those conversations were like. It's likely you remember those people and conversations from your own life, too.

My conversations were all over the place. I've always had a more doctrinally-oriented mind, so many of my questions had to do with the Christian worldview and what God has declared right and wrong. God's people were willing to explore those questions with me and seek answers when I needed them the most. But beyond conversations started by my questions, there were words spoken into my life totally initiated by the Christians.

I remember a friend from high school dropping by my house to lend me a book that I didn't ask for, but needed to read. I remember getting phone calls unprompted, as people wanted to see how I was doing. I remember invitations to gatherings and events, including the church's family camp. I didn't have a family that would go, I thought, only to discover that the church is more like a family than I ever could have imagined. Good conversations were had at those camps, too.

Yet more than the conversations themselves are the memories of the people and how they made me feel. In a different sense than I had ever experienced before, I received some of that agape love. I perceived that the Christians really cared about me, that they genuinely wanted me to be around, and that they valued my presence. It was understood that there were some things about me (read: "sin") that weren't approved and never could be; yet, I was still loved as a person made in God's image, who, at that time, was a potential recipient of God's grace in salvation.

A few months later I joined that Christian family through belief in the gospel, and the love I had been feeling upwardly evolved into a keenly-sensed brotherly love. No longer were these people relative strangers; they became strange relatives in Christ. Their proclamation of the cross, once counted as foolish, led me to join them as one of the weak, chosen by God to shame the world's strong (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

So, what's the point? I suppose the big idea is that this core value of evangelism is critically important, but it is also a great joy. It's all about relationships and the way that we can show the love of Christ to those far from God, even in the simplest acts of grace, mercy, and kindness. There's a godly gratification to this if we are willing to participate. Consider who you can love into the kingdom today.

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