Reluctant Evangelism

By: Allen Smith

Holidays are an...interesting time. The season can make you want to share the joy of your faith while also studiously avoiding talks about religion with family members. We all feel stuck on how to bring up the topic of Jesus, but relational boundaries and internal fears can smother even the best of intentions.

I sat down with my friend, Aaron Rosa, a lover of the lost and gifted in evangelism, to discuss how he goes about sharing the gospel during the holidays.

Allen:
The Apostle Paul tells us that God has “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26- 27). How does knowing God’s sovereignty in placing you in specific relationships help you share the gospel?

Aaron:
The most common description of lostness in the Bible is blindness. Of all the miracles Jesus performed, the only one that had never been done in the Old Testament was healing the blind–this was a miracle reserved for the Messiah. As believers, it might be easy for us to see things while others are still groping through life looking for meaning. In an unbelieving family, we are able to take those hands and allow them to “feel” the Jesus they can’t see.

Allen:
How does the nature of lostness as blindness connect with God’s strategic placement of you among the spiritually blind?

Aaron:
One of the clearest examples of blindness being healed in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. After being blinded by seeing Jesus, Paul sits in real darkness. Then God sends Ananias. At Ananias’ prayer, the physical and spiritual scales fall from Paul’s eyes, and his life is forever changed. The thing I love about this story is how reluctant Ananias is to go! He says, “Hey I know who this guy is, I know he's bad. I know his reputation.” Ananias kept up with the news of how Paul had been persecuting the church. In a lot of ways that's us too. When it comes to our family members, we too keep up with them on Facebook -- some of them have different political viewpoints or annoy us. When God says to us, “Hey, I want you to go and share the gospel with this person,” we react the same way Ananias did. Paul is disoriented, scared, wondering if his blindness is going to last forever. Then Ananias shows up and is present with Paul. He is also willing to share the gospel with him and pray for him. God did all the heavy lifting and Ananias just showed up and watched God work.

Allen:
Let’s talk about how God did all the heavy lifting. Jesus is clear that it’s the Spirit’s job to convict and convert the lost (John 16:8).

Aaron:
Yeah, we forget God softens hearts to the Gospel. Ananias had no way of knowing about Paul’s encounter with Jesus. Imagine his surprise to see the scourge of Jerusalem huddled and blind in a corner! You don’t know the inward moments where your family member has encountered Jesus, but if you have the conviction to witness, that is a desire equally planted by God. Take courage in that!

Allen:
What are some ways we might leverage Christmastime to share the gospel?

Aaron:
Christmas brings up a lot of countercultural concepts, like Joy to the World. The idea of joy to the entire world, it's not a message we hear often because it's pretty hopeless today. Most people would think of “judgment to the whole world” or “the world doesn't deserve joy in the first place.” This starts framing out a conversation with someone in gospel terms.

Allen:
It sounds like you’re using the content of a Christmas carol as a bridge to the gospel.

Aaron:
Yeah. And that's a great thing about Christmas, more so than probably any other time of year, it is socially appropriate to bring up scripture–especially in song. Bring up a question about a carol theme, then look for the answer in scripture together.

Allen:
If there was one thing someone could do now to prepare for being with our relatives, what would you recommend?

Aaron:
Most people don’t take into account the importance of praying for our relatives, that they would specifically come to know Christ. George Whitefield prayed, “their names are written in your book, now let them also be written on our hearts.” Pray for those family members to be written on your heart and eagerly look for those opportunities.


If you’d like to get better prepared to share your faith, join us at our next Evangelism Workshop in the early 2023. There Allen Smith and Aaron Rosa will co-equip you with Bay Area’s core evangelism tools. After our most recent training, many said they left feeling encouraged and empowered to follow the Spirit’s lead in sharing their faith. To receive more info about the workshop, email Allen Smith (allen.smith@ bayareacc.org).