Are You Hiding from Evangelism?
I believe that you, the reader, want to serve God and make an impact on the world. People don’t typically read articles on evangelism unless they want to be evangelistic. Yet all of us can slip into a careless, inattentive state. We neglect the very things which mean the most to us. A husband neglects the wife of his youth; children fail to appreciate the one who brought them into the world; a disciple slips in showing gratitude to the God who saved him or her.
Hide and Seek?
When it comes to evangelism, many of us do more than merely neglect it: we actively hide from it. Are you hiding? Adam and Eve hid among the trees in the Garden. Moses tried to hide behind his brother Aaron, while Saul hid among the baggage. Even Peter, in a moment of weakness, denied Jesus and hid himself among the guards around the fire.
People hide not only because they are confused about the facts or unsure of what to do. They also may hide because they are unwilling to face reality.
We probably all know that we ought to get serious about evangelism. We heard the call to discipleship as we were making our decision for Christ. At baptism, we said, “Jesus is Lord”—a lifelong promise to obey his word, follow in his steps and be fishers of people. But how are we really doing in our own evangelism? Are we hiding?
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town on a hill cannot be hidden.” At times, don’t all of us hide our light? He continued, “Neither do people light a lamp and hide it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16). This passage is simply the Great Commission in another form.
Have you been hiding? And if so, where? What are your excuses, who are you trying to hide behind, or what trivial thing is distracting you from your mission? (Or is your conscience clear?) Let’s agree to come out into the open. We have nothing to hide and we certainly do not want to hide from our mission.
Is God Calling Me to the Mission Field?
“Okay,” you think, “no more hiding. I’ll come out into the open. But I know what this means. I’ll have to throw in the towel on my degree, my job plans—everything!—and move overseas. Maybe preach to the pygmies…” This form of self-delusion does at least sound somewhat glorious. But such thinking is flawed, for the mission field is not just “over there”; it is right here! If we aren’t ready to strike up conversations with those around us, invite them to share in our lives, our faith, our Lord—how is it suddenly going to become easier if we move to a foreign country, with all the extra challenges such a move entails?
No, if we’re not striving to be fishers of people here, we are simply not ready to go to a foreign field. The truth is, we are always surrounded by fields “white/ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). God is in fact calling every one of us to the “mission field.” It may well be in Africa, Asia, or somewhere behind the “bamboo curtain.” More likely it is in our own country.
The point is to be ready, all the time. Ready to “go anywhere, do anything, give up everything” for the cause.
I remember a time in my life when I thought missions meant only foreign missions, and the more foreign the better! The enormous continent of South America, with its hundreds of millions caught in dead traditional religion or misguided zeal, captured my imagination. I began reading the Bible in Spanish, even trying to pray in Spanish. So when I was initially invited to join a mission team to London—you know, English-speaking England—I didn’t react well. “London? That’s not glorious enough,” I was thinking. “They speak the same language as we do (almost). Would I really be laying it all on the line if I went there? I hope I’m destined for a higher calling,” I mused.
And yet London was awesome! I was proud to be on the mission team—and wish more of us were excited about being on “mission teams”! I rapidly became an Anglophile. I have watched the inspiring film Chariots of Fire fifteen times! Everything British was better, and in a funny way I secretly became ashamed of being so “American.” I even tried to change my accent. (As easily as the leopard changes its spots, to use the idiom of Jeremiah.) “Hank the Yank,” they called me, and many others of us too.
We meant well—but how we stuck out! As things turned out, I ended up living abroad for twelve years—in England, Sweden, and Australia.
The point is, you can serve the Lord anywhere. Preach in your own country, or move somewhere else. That is, if you are convicted that the Lord has a plan for your life, that he has sent you on a mission. And the alternative?
Hide. (Is that what you’re doing?)
(For more from Douglas Jacoby, visit www.douglasjacoby.com. Used with permission.)