For many Christians, being a full-on Jesus freak like me doesn’t come naturally. For many reasons I’m kind of obsessed with this whole God thing, and I can’t help thinking about him all the time and about how he is related to everything, literally. You might think this would make me, as “they” say, so heavenly minded I’m no earthly good, but it would in fact be just the opposite. I’m so heavenly minded that I am able to be of some earthly good. When we live life in light of eternity, knowing this life is not all there is, that this life is in fact just the beginning of our forever life with our Creator, then our lives can be lived as he intended for them to be lived. As Jesus said:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The Greek for “to the full” means all-around, “more than” (“abundantly”); beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation; “more abundant,” going past the expected limit (“more than enough . . . “). That is the life Jesus, God himself in Christ, wants for us. And it is only in him, and in the gospel, the good news he came to bring us in his death and resurrection, that such a life “to the full” is possible. Sure, anyone can live a passably fine life without him, on the surface, but a kind of amazing fulfillment and joy about just being alive to everything can only be found in Him. Even as incredibly challenging and frustrating and disappointing, and sometimes downright terrible as life can be, in Him, in Christ Jesus, life is incredible often beyond the ability to convey. As is my habit of not getting right to the point, you must be wondering what this has to do with doing evangelism without doing evangelism. Well, hold your horses, and I’ll tell you!
While I am not an evangelist by trade (Ephesians 4:11), one who is called by profession to proclaim the good news of the gospel, I can’t seem to help wanting to talk about this good news all the time. What separates me from what I think many tend to think of when they see or hear the word evangelism, is that my sharing the good news is not restricted to a certain set of propositions about how we are to be saved from our sin. We might think of these propositions as the core of the gospel out of which radiates our perspective on all things, and that core is our reconciliation to our Creator.
It is quite obvious we are born fallen, or in theological terms, in original sin, which is alienation or estrangement from our Creator. In biblical terms, we are enemies of God, by nature openly hostile to and animated by a deep-seated hatred for him. Most Christians, let alone non-Christians, don’t realize the depth of this alienation. We tend to see sin as something akin to jay walking, when in fact it is more like genocide, an almost infinite difference. That’s why the gospel is so profound. As the Apostle Paul puts it:
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Again, what has this to do with doing evangelism without doing evangelism? Everything. When we get this, I mean really get it, we can’t help it affecting how we see everything, how we encounter and engage and feel about everything. C.S. Lewis, as he always seemed to do, captured this wonderfully:
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
And Lewis was an ex-atheist, which in his 30s he realized explained absolutely nothing about reality, while Christianity explained everything. We call that serious explanatory power!
Christianity, which is the gospel, which is our reconciliation to our Creator, affects how we define and experience every single thing every single moment of every single day of our lives. It gives definition and meaning to all things. It allows us to understand the puzzle pieces that fit into the puzzle of existence. In philosophical terms, puzzle pieces are the particulars (each fact or experience of existence), and they can only make sense because they are part of the universal, the big picture, which is God himself in Christ. How does this comprehensive understanding of existence in Christ help us do evangelism without doing evangelism?
Every person we encounter every day is looking for meaning in their lives. They are looking for hope, purpose, dignity, fulfillment, significance, accptance, love, you name it, none of which can be had in the particulars, in the puzzle pieces by themselves. But oh how people try! We need to understand this, to really buy it, because it is true! Why do you think in the most prosperous periord in the history of the world there are so many suffering from depression and anxiety, frustration and despair? Something like 40,000 people every year in America kill themselves! How pathetic and sad is that. And we have the answer! The gospel! Not the four spiritual laws, or the Romans Road, as helpful as such things can be, but in Christ, and in reconciliation to our Creator in him!
What this means is that everything in some way, some how, comes back to the gospel. It comes back to the Creator of all things who has revealed himself in his creation, in Scripture, our Bibles, and in Christ. So, we can speak this to those we encounter without being obnoxious, or “religious.” We can proclaim the hope, meaning, purpose, love, all of which comes from the reconciliation to our Creator in the one who reconciled us and all things to himself on a Roman cross and came back from the dead to prove it was all true. This is what people are looking for! They just don’t know it yet. We never have to say another person has to believe all this, only that we do, and it just happens to be the truth! Far from being obnoxious or annoying, this makes us winsome and attractive to people who are likely dying in a desert of existence and don’t know they’re really looking for an oasis of water named Jesus!