One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is entering into theological discussions with our summer staff. I especially like these talks when I am the one doing the pushing. It becomes less fun when I am pushed. This past week in Atlanta one of our worship leaders suggested that the secret to evangelism is becoming that which you wish to save. My initial reaction was mostly dismissive. It is a helpful way to avoid rethinking and it gives me time to come up with a strategy to regain the upper hand.
The farther away I get from the conversation the more I have become convinced that my negative reaction to his thoughts had to do with the nagging suspicion that he might be right. The potential implications of this are seismic.
This means that evangelism is something other than sharing the four spiritual laws or getting the person to pray the sinner’s prayer. Becoming that which we wish to save speaks to identification and relationship. Isn’t this what Philippians 2 is talking about- a Savior who gave it all up to become like us, human. Jesus entered into relationship with humanity and could identify with the human predicament.
What does this mean for us?
Does evangelism among the poor mean becoming poor?
Can we cry with those who are crying if we ourselves have never cried?
Can you do multi-cultural ministry and live in a mono-cultural neighborhood?
To be honest, I am still thinking through the implications. I sort-of want him to be wrong.
Becoming is costly. It may mean stepping out of a comfortable world. Authentic evangelism is much more than a brief encounter and a short prayer. It has the potential to impact where I live, how I spend my money, the church I attend and who I spend my free time with.