Sharing faith, in Christian terms, is known as “evangelism.” This is the English rendering of a Greek word meaning “to proclaim the good news.” But the news isn’t always good. There is a subtext to some evangelization that says, “God is really ticked off, and if you don’t pray this prayer, believe the way I believe, and don’t hurry to the baptismal waters as quickly as possible, then he will likely strike you dead before I’m finished talking to you.”
I no longer share faith about an angry, perpetually irritated God who only wishes to stamp out humanity; because I no longer believe in such a Deity. In light of Jesus, and the love of God he came to reveal to the world, evangelism can radically change. We are now “compelled by love,” to employ a phrase from Paul. We share our faith not to coerce, force, intimidate, or to instill terror. We share our faith because of and for love’s sake — the only worthy compulsion. It really is “good news.”
This reminds me of an ancient story about a man named Demosthenes, a skilled orator from Greece. But as a young man he had a terrible speech impediment. This became painfully evident when his inheritance was stolen and he had to argue his case in open court.
His speech was so bad, they gave him an ambiguous nickname in the Greek, meaning either “stutterer” or “sphincter” (I would prefer the former over the latter). He was laughed out of the courtroom. So Demosthenes doggedly secluded himself in a cave and began studying the great orators of the past. He stuffed rocks in his jowls, forcing himself to slow down his speech. Then he shaved off one side of his facial hair so that he would be too embarrassed to go into public. He had to remain in isolation until his hair returned, forcing himself to be properly prepared for the task.
Before we breathe a word about the gospel, we too, should be properly prepared. What is the proper preparation? Well, it’s not about having all the theological answers or a collection of “gotcha” responses to objections. It’s about having God’s love consume our hearts. When we can share the love of God by speaking of the ever-loving Christ, while loving those to whom we speak, then are we ready to open our mouths, and not a minute sooner.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me/.