Every person can understand the importance of evangelism by understanding the actions Jesus took.
I would guess that we have all had the desire to be able to perform the amazing miracles that Jesus did. Perhaps we believe that it would be easier to tell people about him if we could perform those miracles. Then there might be a few who just want the recognition for being able to do those things. The world would look a lot different if we could do the things that Jesus was able to do.
When I was in college I was to read the book “Power Evangelism.” It is John Wimber’s story of how God shaped his life. In an early account Wimber goes to the beach to tell people about Jesus. It was a part of a retreat he was at. As he tells the story God gives him insights into things these young people are involved in, he even reveals hidden sins in their lives. As the people hear these stories they are often times overcome with grief and have the desire to get their lives right with God. This is another amazing way to share the love of God.
It seems that there are only a few in the world who have experienced what power evangelism offers and there are a limited number who can perform miracles. There is something that everyone is capable of doing. We can all be involved in servant evangelism. This is another of the distinctive that were pointed out in our Philosophy of ministry statement. This is doing simple acts of service to demonstrate the love of God. Here are some actions that demonstrate the importance of all evangelism.
Action I. He used what he had
A. It is easy to develop the idea that if we had more we could do more. Perhaps a better way to look at this is what can I do with what I have? Jesus and his disciples had very little, but they were able to do much. As Jesus went through the towns and villages we are told that he taught, he preached, and he healed. Those were things that he was able to do, so he did those things. As he taught that probably looked a little bit like a dialogue. He would talk to people about theology and perhaps he was talking to them about their salvation. His teaching was probably along the lines of dialogues. When you are dialoguing part of what you do is listen. You need to hear what other people are saying. So Jesus probably spent time listening to what was on the minds of people.
B. He also preached. This would probably involve Jesus standing up and speaking a message. There would not be much interaction in something like this. It was Jesus delivering a message and a crowd of people gathered around listening to what he had to say.
C. Then Jesus also healed diseases and sicknesses. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to pray for a sick person and then seem them healed? Probably most people have ideas of being able to do something like this. Perhaps some have even asked the question, why don’t we see things like this happening today? I am not sure that I have a good answer for that question. God has given everyone something and they can use that something to honor God. When we look at the life of Jesus we see a man who was able to gather a crowd, but many times when he started preaching the crowds would leave because his message was too hard. Jesus healed people because he was able to.
D. I believe that we need to see what God has given to us and we need to use those things for God. Many people probably have the gift of serving. That is something that is very easy to use in the area of serving God. Maybe some of you can preach or teach. Those are other things that you can use to bring honor to God. We need to be careful that we don’t grieve over what we don’t have, but instead we must rejoice over the things we do have and we are able to do. Do those things to the best of our ability.
Action II. He was compassionate
A. Over the past few weeks we have seen commercials asking for help to send to Haiti. When we see the pictures and hear some of the stories our hearts are moved and we feel compelled to do something. Some might be motivated to give money. Others might feel the need to travel to Haiti to help with rebuilding efforts. For many there is something inside of them that makes them want to do something. Probably all of us have experienced that at some time in our life. Something had such an impact on our life we were moved to do something. Something in your gut made you act.
B. In v. 36 we read, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus having compassion on these people is that feeling in your gut. It is something that makes you want to fix something. It is a motivation that comes from deep within you. Jesus wanted to do something for these people. He wanted to make the situation right. He uses the words, harassed, helpless and shepherdless to describe these people. They were people who needed help. The results of Jesus’ desire to fix the problem were the healing. I believe that he also sent out the disciples so they would be able to help meet that need.
C. It is sad to listen to a person tell me that they missed out on something. I have had some men tell me that they felt they had been called into the ministry, but they never did anything with that calling. When they tell me they are at a point in their life where they don’t feel they can do anything about it. Maybe someone feels compelled to deliver a message or do something, but they never do anything with it. At some point in their life they had that inner compulsion to do something. For whatever reason it never gets done.
D. There may be times when we notice that we are feeling something. It might be because God has placed the feeling in our hearts. He knows what is happening with us and he knows where we need to go. We need to be sensitive to the feelings God places within us. We need to be willing to act in accordance with those feelings.
Action III. He commissioned his disciples
A. There is an adage when you are trying to teach someone something that goes like this: I’ll do it and you watch, I’ll do it and you help, you do it and I’ll help, and you do it and I’ll watch. The final phase is you find someone else to teach your task to. In these verses that we read today we see this happening in just a few verses.
B. In v. 35 we are told that Jesus taught, preached and healed. Then in 10:8 Jesus sends his disciples out with these instructions, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” He is telling his disciples to do the very thing he had been doing himself. These men are not going out without first being equipped. They had seen Jesus do these things. They were probably allowed to participate in what Jesus was doing, and now Jesus is sending them out to do what they have been getting prepared for.
C. Jesus’ number one mission was to proclaim his message. That message was that Jesus, the messiah had arrived. People needed to accept him. They had been living in a time when the emphasis of religion was on doing things. Jesus came with a different message. His message focused more on a relationship with Jesus Christ and God the father. I think we could say that Jesus was more interested in knowing than he was in doing. Knowing God and his love was more important than doing the things that kept the religious leaders happy. Jesus commissioned his disciples so that the people of his world could know who Jesus was.
D. Jesus sent the disciples out into the world. They went for the purpose of telling others about Jesus Christ. We can be doing the same thing today. If you know Jesus Christ then you should be praying for those who don’t know him, and you can be telling them what you do know.
Action IV. He warned of danger
A. We live in a computer world. Most of the people in the world have a computer, and most of those computers are hooked up to the internet. Many times people will attempt to hamper what you are doing through the use of viruses. Programs that will slow your computer down and maybe even steal information from you. When we hear of a virus often times many in your address book will send you a warning that something has the potential to harm your computer. These are our friends trying to warn us of potential danger.
B. One of the catch phrases of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and their followers was, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near” or something like that. They were warning people of something that they needed to get ready for. In this case it was the arrival of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of heaven. This was the indication that the Messiah was very near. A Jewish person in Jesus day would have been anticipating the coming of the Messiah. They would be looking for signs that it was nearly time for his arrival. So, as the disciples would proclaim that the “kingdom of heaven is near” the people would know what they were talking about. They might choose to ignore what they said, but they would have known.
C. Just as people would prepare for a hurricane, the disciples were warning the people to get ready for the Messiah. The preparations if we follow the words of John the Baptist would be that they were to repent. When John proclaimed the message he told the people “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This would entail turning from an old way of life and entering into a new one. Repent is turning away from the things to take you from God and embracing the things to bring you closer to God. People needed to be preparing for the coming of the messiah, and the same holds true today. We still should be getting ready for the coming of the Messiah.
D. Those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior should turn their life over to him. They should accept him as Lord and Savior. Those who are uncertain in their faith need to make a fresh commitment to Jesus Christ. The rest of us need to be constantly examining our relationship with Jesus Christ and our life to make sure that we are ready to meet him any day.
Evangelism is something that can be pretty intimidating to a lot of people. Handing out pop or water is not so intimidating. Knocking on doors to ask people if they were to die tonight do they know where they would go can be scary. Knocking on a door to give them a battery for a smoke detector can bring a lot of joy to the giver and to the recipient. Servant evangelism can take many different forms. Anytime we do something to show the love of God we are doing servant evangelism.
Evangelism should be a big part of every church, but many times it is not because it makes people uncomfortable. I would like for the church to push servant evangelism this year.
Would you join me in praying for a few things?
· Pray for someone to oversee Servant evangelism in the church.
· Ask for God to enlarge our church.
· Pick out some people that you will be praying for their salvation.