Evangelism is all about Jesus. He himself is the message. Not facts about him, although facts about him are important. But Jesus is more than a set of facts or a system of beliefs. He is a living person. We can be introduced to him, and develop an ongoing friendship with him.
Jesus was born in the Middle East 2,000 years ago. He taught us how to live everyday lives with an insight unmatched by anyone before or since. He was crucified on a Roman cross, but then rose again from the dead. He lives…here, now. Meeting him changes everything!
Jesus is the Answer to human need. He is the Way out of the imprisonments we are all trapped in: bondage to destructive self-will, pride, anger, contempt, lust, envy, addictions, ruptured relationships, loneliness, despair, violence and, in the end, hopelessness. How did we get here?
Out of insanity and inner darkness we made the decision to walk away from the One who created us to experience meaning, fulfillment and joy. We exchanged fullness of life with our Maker for the living hell of life without him. But this One is a God of forgiveness, a God of the second chance. He sent Jesus, and, when we choose to rely on him, Jesus rescues us.
When Jesus died on the cross, Satan and all his works were defeated. When we turn from our sin and its consequences, and trust Jesus for deliverance, He gives the wisdom and power to live our lives. He ushers us into a life that is eternal, not only in duration, but also in quality.
This is life in the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is here because Jesus, the King is here. He is the door in. Through him this Kingdom is available to all: rich, poor, weak, powerful, soldier, terrorist, homosexual, valedictorian … all! In God’s eyes we all stand on the same ground. We are broken people … broken by sin, ours and others, along with sin’s effects. Pretending anything else is a façade. But Jesus can change all this.
Evangelism is simply informing people about the option to choose Jesus, and then honoring them as they decide. God respects each person’s decision, even when it is against their own best interests. Trying to force the message on a person is to violate both the person and the message. This is an offer of God’s love – one of kindness, patience, gentleness and mercy.
Evangelism introduces people to Jesus in ways that free them from entrenched anger. It helps us understand what the process looks like to be saved from guilt, deceit, greed, lust, envy and shattered relationships. It teaches those trapped in addictions how Jesus delivers. Evangelism proclaims the Kingdom of God by announcing and demonstrating that the King is Present.
Evangelism takes place when a widow testifies that Jesus has given her the heart to forgive the men who took her husband’s life. It happens when students share with other students how he can reconcile their ethnic communities, divided by years of hate. It looks like a Jewish Holocaust survivor explaining to Germans that she has returned to their country because Jesus has given her love for them. It takes place in all sorts of ways and in all kinds of places. The Presence of Jesus is announced, and manifestations of His Presence follow.
In Antioch Network, we have a deep desire to engage in evangelism. Jesus is worthy to be talked about. We want precious people, created by God to share his life with him, but shattered by the awfulness of sin and its consequences, to know that there is a way out – a way of salvation. This Way is a Person, whom to know is life eternal.