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Evangelism is making a comeback, and it's not always related to the Gospel. For example, you can find thousands of job listings for evangelists, which are highly sought-after positions.
How did a term some Christians are afraid of become so ubiquitous in the business world? How did Corporate America embrace the term without the negative connotations we typically associate with evangelists we saw on TV or the ickiness we associate with pushy salespeople?
Having been a Christian for some time, I don't think I noticed the first time someone told me they were an evangelist for a company, but I instinctively knew what they meant.
They believe in their company and the goods or services they sell, so they tell other people about them.
And then dig in to know even more about new features, offerings, and ways their product meets the needs of their customers or clients.
What a helpful position to have!
Business and Christian parlance mean the same thing: "Sharing The Good News."
Technical Evangelists tell you how great your life will be if you start or continue using specific software to automate or keep track of some portion of your life.
Evangelists of the Old Testament also shared the good news, typically from the King, about a triumph, the birth of a new prince or princess, a royal marriage, etc.
Christian Evangelists do the same thing. They share the Good News of the Gospel. They tell people about Jesus: who He is, what He's done, and why it matters.
Evangelism is both a command and a natural outworking of belonging to Jesus.
1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
Here's the thing: Jesus came to save sinners, right? And you're a sinner He saved. And so you have hope for two things: a life lived more abundantly and eternal life with Him in His kingdom.
So that means you have a reason to hope. If anyone asks, you can tell them your reason.
It comes down to loving your neighbor as yourself.
But what if no one asks?
It probably isn't a direct quote, but St. Francis of Assisi is most often attributed as saying, "Preach the Gospel at all times. And if necessary, use words."
Now, St. Francis didn't shy away from using words. He would attend parties of the wealthy and tell them about Jesus. He is even reported to have preached to the birds. But his life was an example of living entirely in the good news of abundant life, with hope in the resurrection and eternal life to come. So Francis most assuredly wasn't saying that words aren't necessary if you live an exemplary life.
But those looking for hope also have their Hypocrite Meter calibrated on "extra sensitive." The last thing they want is to be sold some Fool's Gold, some false hope; which is why the Second Greatest Commandment (loving your neighbor as yourself [Matthew 22:39] follows hard on the heels of the Greatest Commandment (loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength [Matthew 22:37]). You've got to honestly believe—and live like you believe—that God is worthy of all your worship and devotion so that your words will be believable when you share the truth in love with your neighbor.
Honestly, though, we can't help it. Our lives will speak. If we're believers, our lives will either tell the truth about Jesus or tell a lie about Him. And anyone who doesn't know Jesus lives will speak, too.
It's wrong to look down on people because they're different from us. But it's not wrong to recognize differences.
Loving our neighbor means understanding and honoring the differences in each other's lives. Which means we can also "listen" to what others' lives are saying. Sometimes, that is the only way they ask for the hope within us.
Ask God for discernment about what your neighbor is asking for.
In the great commission, Jesus taught us to "Go, therefore, and make disciples… teaching them to observe" all that He commanded.
To be a witness is to profess the truth about something we have experienced.
Letting your life speak is one way to do that, and worshiping God is another. Praying and evangelism are also ways to worship God.
Teaching them to observe the commands of Jesus comes after they're saved, once they've put their hope and trust in Jesus. Of course, unbelievers would do well to obey Jesus, but we can't expect them to do that sort of obedience before they come to Him.
Disciple means student, someone who learns from a teacher. So when you share the Gospel with them, and they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they become disciples.
I hope the next time you hear the term evangelism, whether in a business context or from a perspective of sharing the message of Jesus with the world, it'll be a much more natural way to Share The Good News.
Remember, sharing your faith in Jesus with those He brings into your life is the heart of Christian Evangelism.