Free Indeed, to Spread the Gospel
“. . . We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded [their] eyes . . .” (Paul, 2 Cor. 4:2b-3) I want you to see from these verses how you can freely engage in and even enjoy evangelism.
Yes, evangelism. What is it that sometimes robs us of a sincere smile from our faces at precisely the moment it should shine most - in evangelism? In part, it is because we misunderstand our calling’s extent, and become concerned with self.
Paul’s calling, and that of every biblical evangelist, is clearly defined - and limited. The biblical evangelist seeks to make the truth visible, to everyone. She wants wants the other person to see this truth as she has come to see it. Now, this requires labor, beforehand, in the form of thought. The biblical evangelist listens to others, to their stories, in order to make the gospel “good” news to them. The gospel is not changed - there is only one gospel. But the biblical evangelist doesn’t talk past the actual idols of the real person in front of him. He thinks, prayerfully, in advance, about the wreckage of idolatry in the other person’s life, and about how the gospel meets those idols and wreckage with bigger grace, surer hope, better promises, sweeter fruit.
But the biblical evangelist only speaks the truth - and then stops. While Paul aims to persuade, his style is not actually persuasive. It openly states the truth, but no more. Of course the goal is to persuade - but the style is not “persuasion”. It is “statement”, because “persuasion” hinges not on us, but on God.
Therefore the biblical evangelist does not manipulate. There is one more powerful than us who blinds the world, and One infinitely more powerful Who sovereignly gives sight. Biblical evangelists don’t cunningly see unbelievers as projects, but compassionately, as fellow needers of grace, who have yet to find it.
Biblical evangelists do not need the other person to be saved. Our needs are resolved, at a bloody cross and in an empty tomb and in a soon return. The biblical evangelist tells herself the gospel, and is then freed then from self-concern, unconstrained by others’ fickle opinions, to “sing in the shower” - to openly talk about her heart’s greatest treasure.