A bout of evangelism always leads me into deep ruminations. Though while in the moment- the Spirit always seems to carry me through, giving me words, giving me answers- after it's over I find myself analyzing and reanalyzing- my motives, my manner. Did they read love in my eyes? Did I care more about the person I was talking too then hearing myself speak? Why was I doing it in the first place?
But last night, as I was doing my quiet time (returning, yet again, to my favorite book- Philippians) I stumbled across a section (I've read so many times) and it silenced my questions.
Paul writes about his imprisonment and how it has served to advance the gospel as he has had a chance to witness to those around him. He starts out, "And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (1 Phil. 1:14, ESV) -then, beginning the part that struck me, "Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry [...] not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice." (1 Phil. 1: 15a, 17b-18, ESV).
Paul's focus amazes me: The message, not the means. God, not man. Paul didn't care if people gave the gospel out of envy! out of rivalry! out of emotions so far from love! His focus was on the proclamation of the Gospel- Christ crucified. He knew what I find so great a comfort in- that we are but tools in our great God's hands- and it is He that draws and when His word goes forth, "it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11, ESV)
To harden? To draw? To be a stumbling block to the Jew? An offense- and foolishness- to the Gentile? Or to transform a life- to make it new? Ours is but to be faithful.
And indeed, it is faithfulness which seems to be Paul's main concern. For what is one of the biggest problems when it comes to the church and evangelism? NOT DOING IT!!!
Paul prays- for his own sake- "it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death." (Phil. 1: 20)
Ah, then this is what it is. How many times have I not let the truth which sprung to mind come out my mouth because I was afraid of what people would say? What they would think? How many times have I turned the other way- shut up, piped down, squirmed and remained silent- because I cared more about maintaining everyone's good opinion of myself, because I wanted the A in the class (more than salvation for my classmates and teacher)- because I have seen the looks of scorn and contempt- because I have heard the derisive laugh sweep the room- because I am afraid to loose people's respect and their smiles and instead gain the whisper, and the smirk- "There goes the girl who believes God!"
Yet what can I not give for Him who died for me and purchased me with his blood? If I would give my life- can I not also give my day, and my time, and my reputation?
Then oh, God- let me be not ashamed.