Twice now, I have been asked to speak at events that focus on evangelism.
One slight problem with that: I am not an evangelist.
In fact, I have never quite mastered the passing-tracks-out-like-candy-at-Halloween or I-can-change-any-conversation-into-a-conversation-about-Jesus gifts of evangelism. My grandfather possesses them both. He doesn’t ask to be put on the no-call list, telemarketers put his number on their blacklist. You want to sell him a weed whacker, the response will be something like
“Well, no, I don’t need a weed whacker, I got everything I needed the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour. Here, let me tell you about it.” Of course, the telemarketer can’t hang up on him, and Grampa goes through the whole Gospel story from Heaven to Hell and back again. So if anyone should be speaking at evangelism conferences, it should be my 80-year-old grandfather not I.
My ministry is to women within the church. Women who have already been “evangelized.” I don’t even offer tips on how to evangelize, though I did take an evangelism class with Larry Moyer. I have a few skits up my sleeve, even a rope trick I know, and I can recite the Romans Road, but when the rubber meets the Romans Road, the Romans Road turns into a sink hole. It just doesn’t come natural to me. It is something I am working on.
So, I figured there must be something the founders of these events were seeing that I wasn’t. After preparing the session for the first event, a session entitled “A Candid Look at Lust,” it hit me.
When we evangelize, what are we supposed to be doing? I will tell you what we aren’t supposed to be doing. We aren’t supposed to be playing whack-a-sinner on the local subway and we aren’t supposed to be handing out tracts like flyers for an upcoming sales events. When we evangelize, it should be out of a duty of love and desire for discipleship, not some drive to punch another notch in our belts. We tell other people about the love of God because we absolutely love the love of God.
That’s where our problem is. That’s why pornography squelches our ability to evangelize sincerely. Can I recite the Romans Road to you? Absolutely. But I could train a five-year-old to recite the Romans Road. I can teach that same five-year-old the rope trick and the right words to say, but it doesn’t mean anything.
The world is looking for the difference (the good kind of difference, not the I-have-completely-lost-my-mind-and-have-no-concern-for-anything difference) in us. The difference we say we have that we often fail to show we have. They are looking for love- love of people, love of God.
If I am involved in pornography. If I am consumed by lust, I have neither of those. I can’t go out and sing God’s praises when He isn’t my God. I can’t go out and tell the world that God is my everything when He isn’t. I can’t go out and tell the world that He is the answer to their problems and the freedom they need when I won’t let Him touch my problems and continue to live in sin.
They want genuineness. The world needs to see real people, and we can’t be real people and play with pornography at the same time. That isn’t how it works.
The act of evangelism is a supernatural one. It takes a great deal of the Spirit’s power to share the love of God with a lost and dying world, and if we have huge pillars of pornography and lust erected in our lives, how on earth can we ever expect to use that power?
You might be talking the right talk but it won’t do much good if no one cares to listen to you! You cannot be an effective Christian and be swallowed by lust anymore than Jonah was an effective prophet whilst in the belly of that big fish. Don’t fool yourself; the plankton don’t need saving.