In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus gave what Christians refer to as the Great Commission. Jesus commanded all his followers to share his gospel with the world. This command is one of the pillars of the Christian faith. Every Christian knows that they not only should believe in Jesus for themselves, but that they are supposed to be sharing it with the world. However, this has gotten a bit more complicated in our modern western civilization. By now, most people have heard the gospel and rejected it, leading people to call this a “Post-Christian” culture. But let’s take a step back and reflect on our motivations and methods for a moment. Was this the right approach to begin with? In attempting to follow the Great Commission, are we treating people as Evangelism Fodder?
In a recent conversation with David Rubin for the “Unbelievable?” radio show and podcast, Dr. John Lennox faced an interesting situation. The audience posed a question to Lennox, “Do you want Dave to become a Christian?” The answer was yes, of course, but he clarified further. To paraphrase, he would love it if the entire world became Christians, but that’s not what he focuses on.
Later on, the situation was directly compared to Acts 26, where the apostle Paul stands before King Agrippa. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
Dr. Lennox’s goal is to get to know people with other worldviews and make friendships. The final statement he made was to not treat people as “Evangelism Fodder.” I’ve had this concept in my head for a while, but never had such a perfect phrase to capture it. Are we treating people as targets to shoot our gospel at them, rather than trying to get to know them as fellow human beings?
Focus on the Person
If Christianity is true, every single human being is made in the image of God. God believes every human being is valuable, so shouldn’t they be worth our time as well? If we only ever get to know fellow Christians it isolates us as a church and as individuals. How often is the church accused of being out of touch, and only looking internally? Befriending non-Christians is both invaluable to us as human beings, but it’s also the greatest form of evangelism that we have. Be genuine. Try to get to know the other person. Forming a real relationship will help you reach people and share the gospel better than any sermon or gospel tract likely ever could.
Why Spread the Gospel?
We need to be self-aware enough to reflect on our own motivations. Are we getting to know people out of obligation our out of love? Yes, Jesus gave us a command, and we ought to obey it. But are we obeying out of a legalistic fear of consequences or out of joy for what Jesus has given us? The reality of the Christian worldview is that we’ve been forgiven and are welcomed into eternal life with God.
If the reason we share the gospel is just because we were told to do it, frankly that’s pretty sad. But it’s a feeling many of us have had. We find ourselves in a conversation and realize, “Oh! This is the part where I’m supposed to do my Christian civic duty and share the gospel.” When we share the gospel because of ourselves, not because we care about the other person, that is evangelism fodder. Ask yourself the question, “Am I doing this for me or for them?” Let’s all stop treating people as evangelism fodder, and instead care about them as people and show them the love of Christ in the same way that Christ himself did.
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