I confess that I haven’t been interested in evangelism for some time. I’ve told and preached the good news when opportunities came, I just haven’t gone looking for them.
There had been a time when I ran all over the place and effusively told others what Jesus had done for me. An old friend who knew me both then and now has reminded me to check my love. The words he used from Revelation 2 are now echoing in my thoughts and prayers, “I know your good works… but… you’ve left the love you had at first.”
I remember from where I’ve fallen, as Revelation 2 goes on to say. I remember what it was to hear the good news while I was doubled up in my dark heart. I remember as a trembling sinner opening up to Jesus and finding him precious. I had become suddenly unburdened and bright. I wept and leapt for joy. My favorite song was Martin Smith’s “The Happy Song”:
My heart is bursting Lord
To tell of all you’ve done
Of how you changed my life
And wiped away the past
I want to shout it out
From every rooftop sing
For now I know that
God is for me not against me!
He saved me like he said he would. I devoured his words and dished them out to others just as much. I was gushing about him without thought of how to get the word out. That season of ministry altered the course of my life.
There’s a short sermon by Spurgeon on 1 Peter 2:7, “For you who believe, he is precious.” He argued that those who think highly of Jesus speak highly of Jesus. This sermon also came to me this week, and graciously. I didn’t wince in guilt at my current lack of zeal but remembered how precious Jesus was. He had overwhelmed my natural reservations and awkwardness in the past. He had made a bumbler into a bubbling evangelist.
I love him for it. And for his gracious invitation to those who’ve forgotten our first love. “Remember,” he says, “repent, and do the works you did at first” (Rev. 2:5). Evangelism is a basic work of the Christian. But we don’t need to make evangelism interesting when we remember how precious Jesus is.
Spurgeon’s conclusion is below (I think “evangelist” is a better word here than his “missionary”). It’s provoking. If you’re lacking in evangelistic zeal, let it be an invitation, not to guilt, but to remember your precious Savior and recount to others what he’s done for you, however you can.
If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself; you will be whispering it into your child’s ear; you will be telling it to your husband; you will be earnestly imparting it to your friend; without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent; your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of his sweet love.
Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love him at all. It cannot be that there is a high appreciation of Jesus and a totally silent tongue about him. Of course I do not mean by that, that those who use the pen are silent: they are not. And those who help others to use the tongue, or spread that which others have written, are doing their part well. But that man who says, “I believe in Jesus,” but does not think enough of Jesus ever to tell another about him, by mouth, or pen, or tract, is an impostor.
If thou knowest Christ, thou art as one that has found honey; thou wilt call others to taste of it; thou art like the lepers who found the food which the Syrians had cast away: thou wilt go to Samaria and tell the hungry crowd that thou hast found Jesus, and art anxious that they should find him too.
Be wise in your generation, and speak of him in fitting ways and at fitting times, and so in every place proclaim the fact that Jesus is most precious to your soul.
— C.H. Spurgeon, “A Sermon and a Reminiscence,” from the March 1873 Sword and Trowel (http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/srmn1873.php).
Photo by Rio Hodges.