Having presented the commission given to the ambassadors of Christ in the previous Newsletter, this edition discusses the attitudes with which Christians are supposed to do evangelism. Attitudes play an important role in evangelization and evangelism. These attitudes are discussed from the perspective of the holy scriptures.
An attitude has been defined as an established way of thinking or feeling about someone or something (Merriam-Webster). The following are some recommended attitudes of evangelists:
The core value underpinning the work of Christ and His disciples was compassion as could be read from Matt 6:34 and Jud 1:22. Souls are won to the kingdom of Christ through compassion. Hatred does not win souls and neither does it produce righteousness in any persons, but love does. According to Webster, compassion means a suffering with or a painful sympathy for another. It is a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another.
Christians are supposed to have compassion or mercy on the unbelievers as they reach out to them. People who are not of the Christian faith are not to be hated or rejected but must be shown compassion (Jude 1:22). Compassion is an essence of Christ Jesus. It is read that when Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then He said unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers into his harvest (Matt 9:36-38).
Relentlessness; faith comes by hearing
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom 10:15-18).
Oftentimes, the above scripture is used to mean receiving faith for one´s healing or miracle. Though it sounds true, that is not the context within which this scripture was written. It has to do with the preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle means that those carrying the gospel of peace need not give up on their duty to do so, even when it appears that people are ignoring their preaching, as Isaiah questions: who has believed our report? (Isa 53:1). The world may not believe our report, that, salvation has come into the world through Jesus Christ, but we should remain consistent in it, as the continual preaching of the gospel has the likelihood of producing Christian faith in the hearers. Thus, faith in this scripture is about Christian faith but not the faith required to appropriate desired blessings.
Christians do not need to give up on their unbelieving family members or friends or neighbors because continuing to preach to them would one day produce a positive result. Remember that faith comes by hearing by hearing the word of God, so hearing the gospel repeatedly may bring repentance.
Non-judgmental and non-condemning
Many a time, believers judge and condemn people before they preach the gospel to them. Sometimes, they think that some people´s sins are so grievous that they can no longer be forgiven or saved. Some believers are quick to condemn and judge others in their own standards. Jesus Himself never condemned any sinner, but the self-righteous. This is evidenced in the scripture that reads:
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (Joh 3:17). Again, when the alleged promiscuous woman was caught red-handed and was sent to Jesus for His opinion concerning her fate, Jesus did not answer them for a while, and when Jesus had lifted himself and saw none but the woman, He asked her, woman, where are those your accusers? Did any of them condemn you? “She said, No man, Lord” And Jesus said unto her, I do not condemn you neither, so “go, and sin no more” (Joh 8:10). The preaching of the gospel of Christ or the ministry of reconciliation has been given to the disciples of Christ (2Co 5:18), but judgment and condemnation belong to God (Rom 14:4). We have no obligation to judge others and if we do, we should be ready to face stricter judgment (Matt 7:2, Luk 6:37).
Non-argumentative (1Tim 6:4)
During witnessing about Christ Jesus, believers are not supposed to be defensive or argumentative.
In Christian congregations or among unbelievers, Paul advises believers to avoid foolish and unlearned questions since such questions generate strife, but it is not good for the servant of God to strive. Believers are advised to be gentle to all men (2Ti 2:23-24). Peter also writes that where a question about our Christian faith needs to be answered, it must be done with meekness and reverence (1Pt 3:15). It is further advised that those who oppose themselves must be instructed in meekness, for if it is the will of God, He would give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. With this, they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil who has taken captive of them at his will (2Ti 2:25-26)
Dialogical but not coerciveness
It is important that believers engage their listeners in a dialogue while appealing to their minds. An example of this is seen in the discourse between Jesus Christ and the Samaritan woman as recorded in chapter 4 of the Gospel of John. Philip also engaged the Ethiopian Eunuch in dialogue and led him to receive Christ and baptism (Acts 8:29-35). This works in personal evangelism as well as in mass crusades as occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In personal evangelism, hearers need to be allowed to ask questions if they have any while the witness remains focus with the gospel.
Consenting but not compulsion
Here, such questions as: based on our conversation do you have any question in your mind?
Are you ready to accept Christ or what prevents you from accepting Christ? Would you like to be baptized? Pushing someone to accept Christ is meaningless in Christian faith. People should willingly choose to believe in Jesus Christ. Scriptures record that when “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him” (Joh 9:35-38).
Similarly, it is read of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch that “.. as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-38).
The gospel must not be adulterated for the hearer to receive Christ. The truth must be told. Paul writes that his speech and preaching was not with enticing words of the wisdom of men, but he demonstrated the spirit and power of God. This is done so that the faith of the hearers would not stand in the wisdom of men but of God (1Co 2:4-5).
In the preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians should demonstrate positive attitudes to the audience. The gospel ought to be presented in its truest form. All acts of prejudices and coerciveness must be avoided. Relentlessness and compassion must guide the hearts of evangelizing believers as they engage their audience in a dialogue.
Prayer: Father of all creation, we ask your Spirit to lead us as we carry your gospel to the world. Let your wisdom and knowledge guide our hearts. In Jesus´ name. Amen.