"Buy him something to eat."
The message in my head was loud and clear. I was supposed to buy the man sitting outside the restaurant, talking to himself, with his worldly belongings clustered around his feet, something to eat.
Maybe I had imagined the urging, or my over-active guilt complex was the message sender.
"When I was hungry, you gave Me food...: (Matthew 25:35, NKJV)
Oh. Okay. Not my guilt-complex. Whenever Scripture comes to mind, I just assume it is the Lord speaking. He said the Words originally and went to the trouble to inspire men to write them, so when Scripture pops up I just go with it. This is from Jesus. I had better do it.
At least theoretically I just do it.
Actually, on this particular morning, I began a conversation with Jesus that went something like this:
Lord, here is the problem (as if He doesn't already know.) First, I am with my husband, and he always looks at me like I am a little crazy and imagining things when I do stuff like this. Second, what if that man is offended by me buying him food or what if I hurt his feelings?
The resounding silence confirmed the absurdity of my concerns. Jesus gave me a job. Was I going to do it? After a longer delay than I would like to admit (during which the man outside did not get up and leave, which I was secretly rooting for) I tell my husband what I need to do, get "the look" as well as a wink and a nod to do it. I buy a bagel, toasted with butter.
Handing the gentleman the paper bag with breakfast, I smile and tell him this is for him. I am paid with a smile and several expressions of gratitude. I feel the joy of obedience as I walk away.
Twenty minutes later I smack my head.
I didn't even mention Jesus! What kind of disciple am I? I never even gave Him credit or shared His love with the gentleman, and the bagel was His idea!
What kind of evangelist am I? A lousy one, that's what. I can always pull out the, "Evangelism is not my spiritual gift," card. (Say that last sentence with a deep, resigned, thoughtful, spiritual voice. It gives it more punch and gravitas.) If I don't have the gift of evangelism, how am supposed to be out doing it? Right?
But that is not the end of the story.
Several hours later I am walking an adjacent downtown street and I spy the same man, sitting on a bench ahead of me. My thoughts start racing- what should I say? Will he recognize me? Or will it make him self-conscious to talk to me?
As I walk by, wasting time evaluating the pros and cons of my options, he says, "Thank you. It was beautiful."
"I am so glad you liked it. Have a good day," I cheerfully respond.
I walk along, happy from the smile he showered on me and grateful he had enjoyed his breakfast.
Twenty minutes later I smack my head, which by now has a fair size knot.
Again. I hadn't mentioned Jesus again.
Scripture again comes to mind, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:14, NIV)
While the love of Jesus compelled me to share His kindness, I never gave Him the credit or shared His name.
I should have spoken His name.
I should have verbally given Him the credit.
Sometimes I think I have really matured as a follower of Jesus. That usually lasts about one minute. Then I do something boneheaded and see clearly how far I have to go.
Oh Jesus- thank You for Your grace which fills the gap between what I ought to be and what I am. Thank You that Your blood covers my stupid, my sinful, and my silence.
How to Not Evangelize
So here are the steps in order to not evangelize:
- DON'T mention Jesus.
I can still do acts of kindness and love, but in order to not evangelize, I need to not mention Jesus. I can hope that the person will understand the motivation behind my service, but once I mention Jesus the potential for evangelism increases dramatically.
- DON'T share the gospel.
I can share food, money, cast-off clothing, time, work, etc. But I need to not talk about the gospel or the cross.
Those are the only steps. Just keep my mouth shut. Don't talk. No sharing. No evangelism.
How to Evangelize (for someone without the "gift")
- Obey Jesus when He gives me a job.
- Give Jesus the credit when I do it.
- Tell people Jesus loves them and He died for them.
That is it. I just have to talk about it. I just have to talk about Jesus.
How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns! (Isaiah 52:7, NASB)
I need to obey when Jesus instructs me to share bread. But I also need to share the bread of life.
May I never fail or forget to tell anyone again.
Because if I don't tell them, how will they know?
Please share a story of when you followed Jesus and shared about Him, even when it was uncomfortable. I will be inspired.
r share a time you were quiet when you should have spoken, and I will commiserate with you!
Then lets pray for each other and be bold for our our Savior!