Have you ever been reading through the gospels and come to a part where Jesus heals someone, and then he commands them to tell no one? It always was confusing to me why Jesus did this? In Mark 1:44 Jesus cleanses a man with leprosy and right after he heals him he says, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” So what does the man do? He goes and, “began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter” (Mark 1:45). Jesus told him to tell no one and he began to tell everyone. He could not keep this great news to himself. While on the other hand, Jesus commands us to tell the world about him, and we keep it to ourselves. We must start sharing the good news of Jesus with others.
Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, he commanded men and women to keep his miracles on the down low. During a conversation with his disciples in Matthew 16, Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Son of the living God, and it says that soon after Jesus “charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ” (Matthew 16:20). All of this was because his time had not yet come.
But after his resurrection, everything changed. Jesus being the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God was no longer a secret. The disciples were charged at the end of Matthew 28 to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Basically, Jesus said, “Go tell the world about me.” Sadly, though we have not been faithful to this command. Francis Chan put it bluntly when he said, “Simon says, ‘Pat your head,’ we pat our heads. Jesus says, ‘Go therefore and make disciples,’ we memorize that verse.” If we are going to impact this world for the kingdom of God, we must start doing more than talking about evangelism. We must start talking about Jesus with others.
But where do we start? The task seems so daunting to strike up conversation about Jesus with those around us.
I believe we have to start by changing the way we think about sharing our faith. We tend to think of evangelism as a one-time conversation with someone about Jesus, and yes that can be a part of evangelism, but even more so, evangelism is a way we live our life. As Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The same way with the man with leprosy in the story, Jesus has changed our lives drastically. What made the man able to share Jesus with so many people was the fact that so many of them noticed something different about him. His appearance had changed and was healed of leprosy, but on top of that, I guarantee this guy had a huge smile on his face. The people were most likely used to seeing him with his head down in embarrassment, and now his head his held high displaying a smile that showed the joy that he had experienced.
This should be how all Christians go about life. We should remember the sin that Christ has saved us from and the joy that he has saved us into. This is where evangelism happens: when we start living our life out of an overflow of joy for what Christ has done for us in our ordinary, everyday life, around ordinary, everyday people. Evangelism is very rarely this supernatural moment where someone hears the gospel for the first time and has a spiritual epiphany. Instead, it is normally us investing our lives in the people around us and showing them the love of Christ by sticking around for the long haul and speaking truth into their life.
Many Christians share the gospel with someone one time, and if they do not accept Jesus in that moment, they move on and see that person as a lost opportunity. But when we do that, we have it all wrong. If they refuse to accept Jesus, we need to understand that they do not believe in this moment and then pray that God would use us to help show his unconditional love because we are going to continue to be a friend and neighbor to that person. Evangelism is not a drive by gospel presentation. Instead, it an investment of our life in those around us for the purpose of them coming to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.
But how do we go about constantly letting others see Christ in our life? Well think about the simple truth that we talk about what we love most. So let’s think about our life. What fills most of our conversations? For some of us we talk about sports all the time or some TV shows and movies or even gossiping about others. Whatever it is fill in the blank for yourself. Sadly, for most of us, the thing we love the most is something or someone other than Christ. Which means we have to go to battle every morning to allow Christ to be what fills our mind the most, so that he can be what fills our conversations the most. And even when we don’t explicitly talk about Jesus, he shapes our speech in every way.
So one very practical application to becoming better at sharing our faith is to simply fall in love with Christ more and more each day. When we do this, our lives will be lived out of an overflow for our affections for Christ. And just like the man with leprosy, the people we encounter throughout our day will hear about Jesus because we can’t help but talk about what our heart loves the most.