Evange-guilt

The title of this blog post refers to the external guilt and internal guilt we can feel when it comes to evangelism. Too often the sad fact is that thousands of Christians are put on a guilt trip so that they wil share their faith. While it is true that people are dying everyday and will be eternally punished for their rebellion against Christ, the one who seeks to move his hearers into action resorts to emotional pleading rather than helping people practically know how to share their faith. Most talks start like this, “How many times have you shared your faith in the past week?” And then the syllogism goes: 1) You have not shared your faith; 2) Those who do ot share their faith are scared; 3)Therefore your fear of man will condemn many people to eternal condemnation. It is true that many of us are paralyzed by fear when it comes to opening our mouth and declaring God’s praise. However, the main issue is that we do not need people to rush the streets with a renewed sense of evangelistic fervor because they feel guilty. Wouldn’t a motivation from compassion and obedience be a cleaner motivation. I can tell you from experience it will last longer.
Not only will it last longer, but it will not cause us to suffer from the internal guilt we oftentimes feel when it comes to evangelism. That is, the speaker above presupposes a certain form when he thinks of evangelism. He typically portrays someone sitting down with someone over coffee and talking to him about his sinfulness and need to repent. This can be one form of evagelism, but the evangelistic act of worship cannot be pared down to this. Many times when people seek to share their faith with a loved one, they have an internal sense of guilt that makes them believe that unless they share all ‘four points of the gospel story’ they are being unfaithful. As a result, much of our conversation sounds rote and rehearsed. People can spot this feigned love at the first moment of eye contact.
As followers of the Christ, we need to feel compassion, but guilt should not enter our hearts. To temper this a tad, I would say that if we are not seeking to share our faith at all we should be convicted and feel guilty. I am speaking of the kind of guilt that makes you feel like you are being unfaithful if every conversation with a non-believer does not lead to the Gospel – or you speaking about Jesus in some way. Guilt is a temporary motivation. God’s love leads to repentance and to action. We repent of our lack of zeal and love, and by his love we go to the coffeeshop and seek to listen…and then speak.
How many more evangelistic conversations would be helped if we would simply seek to listen to the one we are talking to rather than viewing them as an evangelistic project? How many people would know us by our love for one another and our love for them? To listen to them tell us about their doubts, fears, and hurts and reply with compassion rather than a take-this-spoonful-of-religion to fix you answer…

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