Evangelism is hard and intimidating. God’s call on the Christian to bring the gospel to the nations, to our cities, to our neighbors and friends is a daunting and scary task. But we are commanded to be lights in the world, bringing the gospel to the nations, and making disciples of all people.
At the core of the Christian faith is salvation. Our God is one that saves, we worship God because he saved us. Salvation is the essence that makes up who we are as Christians and it is why Christianity exists at all. Without the saving work of Jesus, we aren’t Christians. So to separate Christianity from salvation makes no sense.
Despite the unbreakable bond that ties the saving work of God to the Christian, many believers are weak in sharing that conversion. Many Christians neglect Evangelism. One of the greatest reasons for this is fear. We exist in a pluralistic society that loves to condemn the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus. It is also really difficult to have those conversations about sin and the fallenness of humanity with our friends and family.
There is risk in telling our closest friend that their atheism is leading them to an eternity of separation from God. Rejection and awkwardness are real possibilities. But no amount of awkwardness should overcome the Christians obedience to God, and our love for people. After all, if we truly love somebody as much as we think we do, then the most loving thing we can offer is an eternity of joy over a moment of avoided awkwardness.
But besides that, is that risk as high as we think it is?
I want to introduce this idea of Relational Capital. No, it isn’t a high finance term or a pop-psychological reference point (well, maybe a little of the latter). Rather it is merely putting words to the reality of respect and love within close relationships. Within our relationships, there is an amount of trust, an amount of love, an amount of respect, and an amount of goodwill that will not so easily be broken by honest gospel truth.
Often we don’t give our friends and family enough credit to think that speaking some hard truth will sever the meaningful relationship that we’ve built over the last two, ten, or twenty years. If someone does truly care for you, and they believe you truly care for them, then there will be an inherent trust present; a trust that what you say and think is birthed from a place of love and care.
In order to get to the point of assumed love and trust, you have to care about people and people have to care about you. Loving people is an essential component of our endeavor to be obedient to God’s call of evangelism; and investing in relationships is part of our fulfillment to this call.
All of this said, there will be times when even a wealth of relational capital will not be enough to overcome the heart's hostility toward Jesus and rebellion against God. That is a risk we must be willing to take, for the sake of their eternity.
Because undergirding all of this is the knowledge that everyone’s greatest problem is their eternal separation from God, thus their greatest need is reconciliation to God. Our love for people is then only as great as our evangelistic efforts toward those people. If that statement doesn’t sit well with you, just consider the implications of an eternity without access to God…that is the fate we leave our loved ones to when we take no effort to participate in God’s work of redemption in their lives.
If you haven’t been faithful to God’s call of evangelism, begin now. Start with those closest to you, those that you have the strongest relationships with. You may be surprised by the reception. It may not end with fireworks and lightning bolts, or God regenerating a heart right in front of you. But our call to plant seeds is evident, and our faithfulness to that call should begin with those closest to us.