“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” ~ 1 John 5:3
Call it a fire within, label it a calling in life, say what you will, but all of us are called to share the gospel. If we love, we obey what Jesus commanded (Jn. 15:13). What did Jesus command? Jesus commanded His followers to be witnesses (Acts 1:8) and to go and make disciples, teaching them what they observed (Matt. 28:19). What did they observe? The disciples observed the love of Christ first-hand; they saw how He loved and how He reached people. While the focus of this article is about sharing the gospel, it is rooted in the command to love—the love for people.
Many believers have heard the claim that Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words,” the only problem is, this is not true. Inquiries have been made and there is no evidence in any of his writings, or any writings in the Franciscan Order twenty years after his death, which makes such a statement. We are always to use words (if capable), the question may be when and how, and that is what I hope to prepare you to do—to have a love for sharing the gospel.
Before we begin, let’s have an understanding, you were rescued and delivered from death, not just to redeem you from the wrath of God against sin, but as a testimony. You’re to live your life to glorify God. For those who believe, the old self becomes a testimony to what God has accomplished in you, through Christ. You’re a new person and God has promised you eternal life—let us not forget this underpinning of our faith. Therefore, we should be in awe of Him and love that He has granted us the ability to know Him, seek Him, find Him, and abide in Him. So, let’s look at three ways to how we can share the love of Christ.
1. Be Innovative & Creative
Each of us has a unique testimony. Rarely are two ever alike; we’re like snowflakes. So, if that’s the case, think about how God works in history. How did He deliver Israel? By allowing Joseph to go into slavery, get arrested on trumped up charges of rape, and then interpret a dream of the Pharaoh. Really, does that sound ordinary? How about Joshua? His first big military strike against Jericho, God delivers the plans to him in the flesh. Joshua goes back to his generals, I can see him writhing his hands together, and says, “Ok, listen up, we’re going to take Jericho…” Except then, he tells the leaders that they won’t use force or a sword, only walk around the city. Seriously? Think about how God choose to spread the gospel, church planting across all of Asia Minor, and to the writing of more than half of the NT Scriptures? God used the number one adversary of Christianity—Saul of Tarsus! Are you seeing a connection here?
Why do we think so small? God is innovative and creative—we should be too. Share what God is doing, has done, continues to do, and will do, in your life. Open up to God in prayer; allow Him to use you. I once picked up a homeless Hitchhiker and drove him 60 miles out of my way—on a Sunday morning, instead of gathering with the church because he needed the gospel. I will never forget his words when I dropped him off at the bus station, “Matt, what would have happened if you didn’t pick me up?” I said, “I would have missed the blessing that I now receive in seeing you come to know Christ as Savior.” Then he said, “Matt, I want to be a missionary!”
To love God is to listen to God; be ready at all times and everywhere, and allow God to use the gifts, talents, and testimony that He has given to you—think outside of the box.
2. Be Relevant to Culture & Community
Contextualization. Learn how to propel the gospel into your community. We’ve already looked at being innovative and creative, but we must place our pulse on the neighborhood in which we live. While I was recently visiting with a new friend, Philip Fidler of Refuge Durham (NC), they have such an awesome opportunity to reach out and build relationships in their neighborhood; one way the do this is to help prostitutes—people that no one would want to help. Philip and his wife, Kim, have such deep hearts and a desire to share the gospel within their community—so much so, not only do they do ministry within the hard-to-reach neighborhoods, they live there! While Philip and I spoke, he reminded me of a popular saying, “One of the easiest missional tasks we can do is to move our grill from the backyard, into the front yard.”
Likewise, contextualization can be with words. When Paul arrived in Athens his heart was vexed, not only that the people were worshipping foreign gods, but that the people did not know God. How did Paul reach these people? He reached them by using their own poets, Epimenedes and Aratus (Acts 17:28). Sure, Jesus spoke about repentance, the Kingdom, and salvation, but that was because Jesus knew His audience—they were expecting the Messiah to usher in the new kingdom and knew what repentance meant. Speak like this now-a-days and you’re talking Christianese to people—they have no idea what you’re talking about. Also, Paul didn’t whip out the scroll of Isaiah—but he did use apologetics. Paul admitted, that he became all things to all people, that he might save some (1 Cor. 9:22). If we’re serious about our faith, we need to adapt and think this way. We are in the culture and should understand how to reach people of that culture. Why?
3. Remember the Mission
Remember that we don’t GO on mission; we are on mission—always! God has placed you where you are—the places where you work, live, and meet. God designed work; from the very beginning He placed Adam and Eve in the garden and commanded them to cultivate it. Had sin not entered the picture, the kingdom of God would have expanded globally, as Adam and Eve and their respective generations had offspring. It just so happens that the history of humanity begins with a garden and ends in a city, but all throughout, God illustrated His love by sending prophets and people to reach different cultures and people groups—we need to remember the mission of Christ. We need to remember that the love of God should propel us to reach people in a way that they can understand. The church of Ephesus was admonished by Jesus for “losing their first love” (Rev. 2:4), and what was that love—sharing the gospel! Sharing the love of Christ with others is a command. Let’s do it.
Matthew Fretwell is married, has three daughters, loves Jesus, being a dad, people, and coffee. Besides being an author (Denied Desires; Identity Theft, Sanctificagious, 30:1 Manhood), he’s pastor of a 112 year old revitalized church planting church (Oak Hall Baptist) in Sandston, Virginia, and is the founder of Job 31 Ministries. Matt’s an advocate board member of Living Bread Ministries, a global comprehensive Church Planting organization.
He also writes for Church Planter Magazine.