Why Do We Evangelize?
We join together for the betterment of this world through the Word of God, evangelism, and the deep study of the Word and constant prayer. It is part of the outworking of the love we see on the cross.
So if Christ has done everything, what do I need to do once I accept His truth? Apostle John writes, “Herein is love, not that we love God (we will never understand love if we start from the human end), but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Then he goes on, ” Beloved, if God so loved us we ought to love one another, too” (1 John 4:10-11). Notice John’s verb. We ought; we ‘owe it’ to love one another.
Love is not just an abstract concept or feeling, but it is a demand made on all God’s people as their response to His great love and it is love that overflows in activities for others as 1 Corinthians 13 makes clear for all time. Love is demanding. Christ did not die, as someone has put it, “for the flim-flam of respectable Christianity”. Christ died for our sins, died to put them away so that we become loving people.
Loving means spreading the truth and love of Christ. If we’ve found the cure to the ills of this world, we want to share it, because we want others to be healed, as well.
We of the human race know a love for attractive people, for beautiful people, for those who love us. Christ’s love is for sinners (Rom. 5:8), a love which puts away sin and rebukes all our self-centeredness so that love becomes our mainspring. This means in the first instance that we love other believers. The evangelical sees the church, the beloved community, as an integral part of the purpose of God. And in the second instance it means loving those outside. It means being loving people, for we are the followers of Him who died for sinners.
It means in evangelism, we bring to sinners the best gift we have.
Evangelicals have sometimes been regarded as hard-liners, people without sympathy for those who deviate by a hair’s breadth from our respectable orthodoxy. Who can say that we are guiltless? “Envy, hatred, malice, and all un-charitableness” are endemic in the human race and we have our share. Repentance for our past sins and a discovery of ways in which we can show that loving response which the New Testament sees as flowing from the cross is therefore an authentic part of evangelicalism.
But the cross speaks not only about love but about lowliness. Nowadays we are told that “small is beautiful”. Put in these terms, the thought seems new. But its essence has always been part of evangelical religion. The cross condemns all self-seeking. How can anyone who has entered into the meaning of the cross seek great things for themselves?
We are servants of God’s people, a servant of the church, and a servant of the others in the work of Christ. We’ve heard the call to take up our cross (Luke. 9:23). Our life style is different because of what the cross means to us.
How Can We Do All Of This?
The standard set before us is one we cannot reach on our own. The indwelling and empowering of the Holy Spirit is an integral part of the Christian life as the evangelical understands it. Words like ‘sanctification’ and ‘holiness’ speak of the need for a standard we can never reach for ourselves and speaks also of what the Spirit does in the believer.