Confessions of a Terrible Evangelist
Hi, my name is Colby, and I am a terrible evangelist. It’s something I am not proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to people, even complete strangers. But when it comes time to bring up Jesus, I shut down like Blockbuster. I have continually tried to analyze why I am this way and I have come to two very obvious conclusions. First, I don’t love Jesus enough and second, I don’t love people enough.
I Don’t Love Jesus Enough
Coming to the realization that I didn’t love Jesus enough took the longest. I constantly convinced myself that my works (going to church, being active in missional family, and going to morning prayer) were proof that I loved Jesus immensely. Ultimately, they were a veil to cover up my lack of love for Christ and replace it with a love of my own self-righteousness. Not a real righteousness, but a righteousness I believed I was achieving in the eyes of fellow believers. I loved Jesus, but I loved myself a whole lot more. So, I justified my own lack of love for Jesus by my presence of work for Jesus.
One of the reasons this was so easy for me to do was because I struggle to believe in the love that Christ has for me. I struggled to believe that Christ still loves me despite my sin. I was doubting God’s graciousness, so I tried to earn his favor. I continued to repent and fight sin, but I also tried to earn the forgiveness and grace that is given through faith. I was rejecting Christ’s love while trying to earn Christ’s love.
Once I began to more deeply understand the depths of Christ’s love and grace (we can’t earn it), falling more in love with Jesus became a reality. I could more deeply sense his love for me and once that begins to happen, it is impossible not to fall more deeply in love with him.
I Don’t Love People Enough
I love people and I don’t love people. I love people in the sense that if I had the choice, I would rather be around a lot of people than be by myself almost 100% of the time. I don’t love people in the sense that I quickly find ways to elevate myself above others in my own mind. This is a result of my doubting God’s glory and thereby trying to earn the approval of others. I wanted my own glory because I thought so little of God’s.
Once I began to fall more in love with Jesus, I also began to see his glory more clearly. The approval of others has begun to appear more and more inconsequential in the light of the glory of a gracious God who spoke the universe into existence. When we have the love of this incredible God, why would the thoughts of others remain so important to us?
Hope from a Terrible Evangelist
I want to be clear, I still struggle to love Jesus and to love people. I have not suddenly transformed into Billy Graham, leading people to Jesus by the thousands. But as I have begun to believe in God’s graciousness and God’s glory more fully, I have seen some victory. I have not seen the fear of man and desire for others’ approval disappear, but I have experienced God’s help in overcoming it.
Let me share one example. Recently my mom spent a lot of time in the hospital. Praise God that she is now at home and recovering. During one of our trips to see my mom, I felt very clear guidance from the Holy Spirit to share the gospel with her. This sent my fear into the stratosphere. I desired to share with my mom, but it intimidated me to do so immensely. So I prayed. On our way up there, I prayed. While we were sitting in her room, I prayed. Finally the opportunity came and it was just my wife and me with my mom. So, I started sharing. I don’t know if I was visibly trembling, but it sure felt like it. The fear never subsided, but the gospel was shared clearly and for that I praise God.
It would be nice to some day not have that fear, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. We are not called to make disciples when it’s easy and no fears or worries are present. We are called to make disciples. Period. The end. If you are anything like me, then these issues are present in your life as they are still present in mine. I want to encourage you that victory can be found and it is found in Jesus and Jesus alone.