Monthly Archives: November 2011

Jonah realized it was not his place to choose the audience of his God-given message. We should realize it, too.

In my last post, I pointed out that friendship evangelism actually makes the Great Commission harder, yet that is not all there is to it. Another unfortunate aspect of this approach is that it limits the audience of the gospel to those in one’s immediate sphere of influence, i.e., friends, relatives and coworkers, ignoring an enormous segment of society: strangers. This distorts the Great Commission, whereby Jesus commanded His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15, NASB). He did not say, “Go into your immediate sphere of influence and preach the gospel to your friends, relatives and coworkers.” Those people, though certainly important, make up only a minuscule subset of our society. There are hundreds—thousands, even tens of thousands—of people out there who need to be reached with the gospel, so how can we limit our target audience to a mere few? Jonah, who thought he could choose the audience of his preaching, eventually realized that “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Jonah 2:9, ESV). Do we believe that?

Let’s stop editing God’s command to bring the gospel to all creation. There are multitudes of lost souls who know so little—so very little—about salvation, and they desperately need us to proclaim the good news to them. I asked a young man once on the street if he knew how sin is eliminated. He did not know that it is by the blood of an innocent sacrifice that God forgives sin. Who knows what other essential truths of salvation he didn’t know? Let’s obey God’s command—His simple command—to bring the gospel to everyone.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, friendship evangelism is a popular method of outreach in much of today’s evangelical church. In fact, it is more than just popular: It is the default approach, so much so that it usually seems to be assumed rather than biblically justified. Contrast that with the approach that one finds throughout the Bible—proclaiming God’s message to strangers in public places—which is scarcely mentioned nowadays.

There are probably many who will disagree with me, but I am convinced that the primary reason for friendship evangelism’s popularity is because it seems easy. After all, evangelism is far less daunting when you share the gospel message with someone who has already accepted you, isn’t it? A friend is less likely to reject you than a stranger, right? That makes friendship evangelism easier than sharing the gospel with strangers, doesn’t it?

Not really. Ironically enough, it is actually friendship evangelism that is harder. The longer you are in a friendship with someone, the more reluctant you are to do anything that might jeopardize that relationship you so enjoy. It’s just human nature: We will do our utmost to hold on to something that is near and dear to our hearts, so proclaiming the gospel to our friends will be moved further down our list of priorities as time goes on.

The polar opposite to friendship evangelism—outreach to strangers—while feared by many, is actually the easier approach because fearing the loss of the relationship is not a stumbling block. If a friendship does not exist, it cannot be lost.

God’s commands truly are not burdensome, and this is just as true with the Great Commission as it is with any other of God’s commands. Yet friendship evangelism actually makes the Great Commission harder than it has to be. What God has made simple, we make difficult and complicated because we think we know better than the Giver of the command and set ourselves up to be God’s editors. Our disobedience, our rebellion, and our sinful tendency to rewrite God’s commands are the greatest evangelistic difficulties we Westerners face.

About the Author

The author of this blog, Jeremy (Jehanne), is a Catholic who strives to think God's thoughts after Him and obey Christ's exhortation to take up the cross daily and follow Him on the way to Golgotha. He likes reading theology, evangelizing, and, of course, writing.