You know the miniature booklet with only two colors: Yellow & Black? It has a picture of two cliffs and a great expanse between the two. The cliff on the left reads “US”, the expanse in the middle reads “SIN”, and the cliff on the right reads “GOD.” Somewhere inside booklet the cross is inserted and it gives “US” a bridge to “GOD”. I was always afraid of passing those tracks out during evangelism because I thought they were dorktron5000. Heaven forbid I do something remotely dorky. Christians are supposed to be cool right? If we ain’t trendin’ then people won’t listen to us. Right?
Regardless of me not handing them out I memorized the booklet. Front to back. All five pages and 45 words of it. It was the first bit of literature I put to memory for the sake of evangelism. Go ahead, ask me how to become saved, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” There are actually a few verses prior to this one and a few after it. At least this is how it’s laid out in the Yellow & Black booklet.
It was only a short while into high school when I realized my classmates didn’t really care about the huge gap between “US” and “GOD”. I turned to a more systematic approach of presenting the gospel and its information. Apologetics, the intellectual battle. It was important I knew my stuff so that I could convince others to become Christian. Most of the time this approach leads to me unloading my arsenal of apologetic questions to no avail.
I left the apologetic approach after reading a book called “crazy love.” I decided the only way one can effectively share Jesus to others is through actions. I was convinced that the gospel was best spread through unspoken words and lots of serving.
I have no doubt that each one of these methods were/are good, but my problem was looking for the absolute way of sharing the gospel. How to effectively and accurately represent Jesus. For the sake of efficiency I moved from one trend to another in hopes to find “the way” of evangelism. Most of us do it, and most of us think our way is the right way….You’re probably right.
I thought I was right until I met Josefina. I was in Mozambique sipping on a coke on a dreadfully hot day. Josefina was working, cutting someone’s hair. I happened to pass by the shop as she was sweeping up the leftover hair. She wanted to know what a white boy like me was doing in her neighborhood. Perfect question to be asked when you want to share the gospel. I started telling her about Jesus and, to my surprise, she looked confused. Up till this point I had never met anyone who had not heard of Jesus, the Bible, Christianity, and Mark Driscoll. Surely she had… If Coca-Cola was sold here, people should know about Jesus? She had no idea. For the next thirty minutes I gave the most fragmented story of creation all the way to Jesus. Naked man and woman, the snake, the apple, the sin, Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, new life. I would have been embarrassed if any one of you heard it. But she knew nothing, so I was in the clear.
It was that moment, the moment where I felt completely unequipped to share the simple story of what I believe, that I realized I had some how neglected truly studying the bible. Critically analyzing #trending books about the bible apart from the bible seems to be a Christian pastime, and some how I thought reading “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe” by Mark Driscoll would give me the type of answers I needed to communicate the truth of the gospel to anyone and everyone. Josefina didn’t need to know about my testosterone driven theology. She just needed to know the story of the bible. A story I suddenly realized I didn’t fully get myself.
My ability to make Jesus known is not based on what I lack. Regardless of my inability to communicate the story, she became a Christian.
Two nights ago I was sitting next to my friend Adam across from three self-proclaimed atheists. One was maybe Buddhist, but he wasn’t completely sold on his parent’s religious beliefs. Our purpose together was for the three of them to practice their English in conversation with us. About an hour in my favorite question was asked, “How did you come to Taiwan?” Adam went first and ended his monologue with something about hearing the Lord tell him to come to here to Taiwan.
They looked puzzled and asked how that was possible. Adam looked at me and asked if I wanted to take this one. “Well, Jesus…..” I began. A few minutes into it I stopped and asked, “……You do know about Jesus right?” There must have been too much time, between Mozambique and Taiwan, lived in America because I forgot not everyone was/is privileged enough to have grown up in a culture where Christianity was “well known”. The maybe-Buddhist kind of knew about Jesus, and Tim (his English name) had heard a little bit before, but not much. “What about creation?” I asked. Nope. Then excitement hit me as I remembered the last time I gave someone the walkthrough of the Bible story.
Since Josefina I have attended two different Bible Colleges, and am currently in an inductive Bible course. This time I was “equipped” and ready to share what I knew, in confidence. I mean I am no @ChristianHipster but Leviticus has become one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. This was it! Lets see how good I have become at explaining a very clear, in sequence, story of the bible since Josefina! Moments into responding I burst into a back sweat. Worry hit my like a freight train as I realized I was sharing with these three guys, who were intently listening to me, the most important thing I knew. As I shared I thought to myself, “Wait, what if I miss something? Something crucial! Do I need to include that story about idol worship, or do they need a break down of the Trinity or the importance of the Virgin birth? Maybe they needed to hear about the post exilic cycle of sin the Israelites went through? How would my friend Rob Bell explain it?”
Some how I felt like these guys’ salvation was up to me and the way I presented the Bible story to them. If I did an awful job, they wouldn’t give their lives to the Lord! I put too much pressure on myself and did not give God enough credit for these three guys coming to know the Lord. I picked up a burden not meant for me to carry.
I believe fully in feeling the burden of sharing the Gospel with others. I think it is right we feel that weight, but we often think salvation depends solely on us. So we put on this backpack full of misplaced weight. A polished sales pitch, in apologetics, or the buyers won’t buy. We forgo apologetics, and think verbally sharing the gospel is old fashioned, so we neglect it and choose to just live life by example and forgo any verbal presentation of the Gospel. Maybe we think the key to peoples’ salvation is not in teaching them the Bibles story but in feeling and experiencing God, or vice-verse.
Isn’t that taking the power of salvation out of Gods hands and putting it into our own?
Drum roll please………….
Salvation is not in your hands or in your backpack. It is in the hands of Jesus.
And Jesus relieves you of any pressure or stress of what to say, and how to say it when the opportunity arrives. Instead of that burdensome backpack Jesus gives you this, ” All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all the things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Don’t freak out, you have the Holy Spirit in you, teaching you, guiding your through conversation. And if He is guiding you, that other guy’s salvation is not hinging upon what you say. You can lay your head down, at the end of the night, with the comfort that God used/uses you regardless of if some one receive salvation today or tomorrow.
After My failed attempt with these atheists one of them pipes up, ” How can I become Christian?” Good thing I memorized those verses on the back of that Yellow & Black booklet. We prayed together, and with red eyes he acknowledged his Savior for the first time.