In a small group discussion, I heard a church member say, “I wish our conference office would just tell the truth. I don’t like it when our leaders evangelise the facts.”
I almost corrected her, saying, “You mean “ ‘exaggerate' the facts, right?” Then I realised her mistaken word choice actually said far more than she intended. As a people focused on winning souls and seeing baptisms, have we become so adept at inflating the results that we are redefining evangelism? Do we want the next generation of young Adventists to use the word ‘evangelise’ interchangeably with ‘exaggerate’ when talking to their friends?
A Worthy Report
Revelation 14:6-7 challenges God’s people to call the world to worship the glorious Creator God and proclaim Him as the soon coming Judge. In this passage, God is a God of evaluation. He will judge what has taken place on Earth – both the good and the bad. It stands to reason that we should do likewise as we share our faith – be it individually or corporately. Without examining the results of our effort, we cannot recognize our successes or refine our strategies. A worthy report can only be given if the work is reviewed.
Faith at Heart
With God as Judge, we do not need to worry ourselves by considering the holiness or sinfulness of others. God alone is the Judge. We have been called to fix our eyes on Jesus who is both author and finisher of our faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 says: “Jesus Christ is among you; if not you have failed the test of genuine faith.” Our faith can be examined by asking ourselves, “Is Jesus among us?” No doubt, you’ve heard the question “What would Jesus do.” This is an action-based question. Actions can be forced and do not always reveal the true person. The question posed to the Church in Corinth is a heart-based question: “Does Jesus live here?”
Live to Love Him
Many of us carry a burdensome list around with us – a list of all the things we believe we are supposed to do to be a “real Christian.” Deuteronomy 10:12-13 tells us our primary focal point is to be God and our love for Him. Out of that heartfelt, soul-deep love for God will flow service, obedience and a life that pleases God. If we live to love the list giver, the list will loose it’s hold over us and love will permeate our every thought and deed. At the end of each day, rather than checking the list, we can evaluate our witness by saying, “Do I love Him more?”
Strength in Numbers
Leadership expert John Maxwell says you know you’re a leader by looking behind you. If there are people following you, you’re a leader. If there’s nobody behind you, you’re just going for a walk. Hebrews 10:24-25 shows us one of the many benefits of being part of a church. When we have people behind us, we can motivate them to do acts of love and good works. When we have a leader in front of us, we have someone to motivate the best in us. When we are alone, we lack the empowerment and encouragement that come from working with likeminded people. We need each other. We do better together.
Evangelise the Truth (Matthew 23:15)
While awaiting my 2 minute reporting timeslot at a camp meeting, I listened with dismay as a well known public evangelist used his two minutes to explain why he would need at least 10. “I’m an evangelist,” he said. “I can’t say anything in just two minutes.” He then proceeded to take quarter of an hour, so valuing himself and his words that he sacrificed the time allotted to others.
I was frustrated and dismayed by the repeated comment made by each following presenter: “I’m not an evangelist, but…” Then they gave their two-minute report. When it was finally my turn, although I was fired up, I decided to use my two minutes as requested – to report – not to comment. But, as I approached the microphone, the host said, “Dave, don’t tell us you’re not an evangelist!” I paused, reconsidered, and then, sweeping my hand from left to right across the audience, said, “You are all evangelists. If you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour, He has given you a great commission to go and make disciples.” Nodding heads and a chorus of “Amen” filled the tent.
The end-time work of God’s church has been given to each and every one of us. Let’s do the work allotted to us. And when the work is finished, let’s be honest. At the end of the day, we do have something to report – the truth! Telling the truth doesn’t take long. The truth doesn’t need flowery adjectives or inflated numbers and it doesn’t need to be hidden behind that ‘one good story’ that came out of the recent evangelistic endeavour. If there was one saved, celebrate the one, fully.
As today’s witnesses for Christ, we have a responsibility to evangelise, not to exaggerate. Let’s be an example to those who will follow us. And when they take the mantle on their shoulders may they say, “Let us evangelise the truth” and mean it, in all honesty.
- What areas of my life would benefit from more evaluation?
- We have all been guilty of inflating, exaggerating or blurring the truth. What can we do to ensure we are more honest in the future?