Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Gift of Evangelism
By Brenda Black
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.'
“Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh...
“When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:
“'By the decree of the king and his nobles:
“'”Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”'
“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:1-10)
The gift of evangelism is not always an easy one to present, especially to those who would rather see you dead! The residents of Nineveh were Assyrians, enemies of Israel. Jonah knew them to be pagans with evil intent. God knew they needed forgiveness.
Unlike Jonah, who wanted the gift of grace only for himself and not for this wicked nation, the shepherds who first heard of God's miraculous offering, couldn't wait to go spread the news. They, too, would have faced potentially hostile recipients since they were considered lowly in social status. Yet, they didn't hesitate when an angel of the Lord bid them “Go tell!”
The difference between Jonah and the shepherds was a matter of perspective. The shepherds accepted the gift of evangelism, then wrapped it in compassion for speedy delivery. While Jonah begged to differ with God's commission, the shepherds took to heart the angel's message: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) They got it! And IT was for ALL!
Whether begrudgingly or willingly the Gospel is delivered, the miraculous power of the Word changes lives. In spite of our blunderings, our wanderings or our arguing, God will make a way. There is a much easier path than through the belly of a whale when it comes to sharing the salvation message. There is the way of the shepherd. With urgency, joy, enthusiasm and expectation, they “hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Lk. 2:16-18)
The gift of evangelism is just that – a gift. It comes from the Father to His saved child with the expectation that he who has received much will be more than anxious to share it.