Readings: Matthew 5:1-16 & Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)
When I began my last two university degrees, the term 101 was used for the first courses within those degrees.
There term 101 often symbolises something that is basic, a starter course, a prerequisite course and a building block for more detailed and difficult courses at levels 2, 3 and 4.
When it comes to Evangelism, the previous Senior Pastor of the mega Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago in America, Bill Hybels, would argue that 101 is all anyone needs and indeed that there is no majors or masters or doctorates in how to evangelise.
He, like so many others, says that evangelism is no such a difficult process, as we might think and that it is not about formulas, scripts, demonstrations and memorising methods or prerequisites and best of all it is for all Christ’s followers.
Yes, it is about us – our actions – but it also about the Spirit’s leading.
Therefore, Evangelism should not send a tremor up one’s spine. Just the opposite, it is about relaxing into a frame of mind to tell the Good News, and caring about someone else’s eternal destiny.
The word ‘evangelism’ is from the New Testament Greek word ‘Euangelon’. It has two root words ‘Eu’ meaning ‘good’ and ‘angelon’ meaning ‘I bring a message/or news’. From it we get – ‘I bring Good News’.
Interestingly, ‘angel’ also comes from this word – as ‘a messenger’.
Over the next three weeks we will look at the why, when, where, how and ‘to whom’ of evangelism, before the beginning of four weeks of workshops about evangelism.
However, today we focus on ‘why’ we need to be ‘evangelons’ – angelic messengers of the Good News.
In Matthew 28, the resurrected Jesus is about to return to heaven, but will leave his guiding spirit to empower his followers. In essence within those four verses, Jesus gives a command to go and make disciples by baptising and teaching all people.
The command to make disciples of all nations is written in Greek as ‘pante ta ethnos’- literally all of you tell all people – don’t be selective.
We can’t make excuses and say we’ll leave it up to the minister or the elders. We cannot say it is not my gifting – someone else would be much better at it.
No, Jesus is calling us all as Christians to follow this command to tell and teach.
Similarly, in the famous Beatitudes – Sermon on the Mount – (what I like to call the Beaut Attitudes) – Jesus is calling us to be salt and light to a world that does not know him.
If a seasoning such as salt has no flavour, it has no value. If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, then they are of little value to God.
We cannot hide a city that is sitting on top of a hill. At night its lights will be seen for many kilometres.
If we live for Christ, our light will show others what Christ is like.
We hide our light when we are quiet, when we should speak or when we do not explain our light source to others.
In the first thirteen verses of the Matthew 5 passage, various words are repeated – the kingdom of heaven – God’s realm – blessed – referring to potential qualities within ourselves – and righteousness – this word is essentially not about our behavioural qualities but how we relate to others – how we bring salt and light to others – how we live out the words of the hymn – Tell Out My Soul.
So, regardless of age, colour, gender, personality type, level of ability and spiritual gifting as a Christ followers. If you are living, as Hybels says, then the Spirit is asking you to walk and to stretch out your hand, to be used by God and to be part of God’s plan towards a person who is living their lives far from God, and bring them eternal hope as well as the love and grace that has been lavished on us.
Again, as Hybel says, it is the single greatest gift you can give someone.
Finally, for the next couple of minutes, talk to the person next to you and tell them who that person was, who took a bold risk, who walked across a room and introduced you to the God, who desperately wanted to enfold you with amazing grace.
One more reason as to why we evangelish – you never know the great things that will ensure beyond our generation.