I often get criticized for being an evangelist.  I say criticized because that is the way it comes across to me.  It’s like saying, “Rod, you’re an evangelist.  We get that.  Now, can we get on with the deeper teaching of the word, like ________?” (Fill in the blank with what that person would like me to teach on to satisfy their fancy).  It’s meant to communicate what I am not doing for the church or a certain person, rather than what I am doing.  So, a spiritual gift gets the blame. 
Now, I’m okay with this criticism.  It’s one of the easier ones to take.  What I’m not okay with is what I believe is behind this kind of thought in the Body of Christ these days.  This criticism, leveled at regulars like me – I don’t believe I have the spiritual gift of evangelism, is a sign of how little the Gospel has transformed the Church.   If we knew the words and works of Jesus, if we were truly captured by His love and forgiveness, if we really understood how awesome the gift of salvation is, if we only knew how very important every person on the planet is to our “God is Love” God, then the church would all be doing the work of an evangelist just like Paul told Timothy in Ephesus 2000 years ago.  Paul had to tell him to “do the work of an evangelist” because he did not have that spiritual gift.  (2 Timothy 4:5)
So, today, when we see someone captured by the ministry of Jesus – reaching people for God’s Kingdom and preaching “repentance for the Kingdom of God is at hand …” we call them an “evangelist.”  Now we have an excuse for our apathy for the ministry of Jesus and the Great Commandment/Commission. Remember this was transferred to the Apostles and then through them to the Church of Jesus Christ.   Jesus is living vicariously in the world through His Church.  But we keep refusing to let Him flow out of our skin.  That, we say, is just for those gifted in evangelism.  By the way, I wish I were an evangelist.  I’d love that gift.
Read the Gospels and Acts all over again.  They describe the work of Jesus and the work He called His church to do.  The letters of the New Testament were, in general, written by the Apostles to correct how far the churches had already veered from the pattern of Jesus.   That was the first century!  Just think how far we might be from that pattern today!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Blame it on the gift!