In Evangelism, You Are the Need, and You Are the Answer
A recent chapel message by Southern's Dean, Dr. Russ Moore, hit me hard on this subject. Dr. Moore is a punchy preacher, and he landed a few. His message helpfully addressed a number of subjects but none more so than the topic of fear in evangelism. To put it straightforwardly, Dr. Moore encouraged his audience to witness with fear, yes, but not fear of man--fear of God for the condition of the lost person. The fact that a person is going to hell should fill us with fear for them. In addition, we have fear in our hearts as we witness for we are filled with reverence and awe as we stand before men and proclaim the news that God will judge those who are not in Christ and save those who are in Him. Evangelism is a holy and awesome task. We don't enter into it lightly. We do not tremble for fear of our own personal condemnation, but we tremble as those who have been sent to tell a foreign nation that an army approaches to utterly destroy them. This nation blithely goes about its business, while we have caught a glimpse--just a glimpse--of the furious wrath that is to come. Possessing this knowledge, we speed to these people, and tell them of the reality of eternal destruction in hell and the promise of salvation in Christ.
But most of us don't sense this urgency when we witness. We sense a great fear. Relying too much on feeling, we seek to divine exactly the right moment to say exactly the right words. Should that moment pass, we clam up, certain that our only opportunity for witness is past. We pray earnestly for other such moments to come, but they seem very few and fleeting. We sense the need, and we have the answer, but we cannot find the right time. Well, I am convinced that I too often fail to realize a very simple truth: I am the need, and I am the answer. In other words, I have what the lost around me need, and therefore the gospel I preach is the answer, and so I must err not on the side of timidity but on the side of courage and share the gospel with the lost. I do not cast away any social sensitivity or sense of reliance on God for strength and blessing in witnessing; indeed, I don't simply bullhorn anyone around me who I sense might not be a Christian. But I personally want to practice what I just wrote: I want to err on the side of courage, not on the side of timidity. Many of us err the wrong way, I think, though we chalk our behavior up to being "sensitive to others" or even to the Spirit in the moment. There are times to fall silent, yes, times to not witness, but most of us do not struggle with witnessing too much. Most of us struggle with the not witnessing enough.
We must pray, then, for God to bring His truth home to our hearts. As Christ's heralds, we are the need. We are the answer.