Building Desire for Evangelism

Read also “Is Street Preaching An Effective Evangelism Method?“.

 

“The supreme purpose of the Christian church is to make Jesus Christ known, trusted, loved, obeyed, and exemplified in the whole range of individual life – body, mind and spirit – and also in all human relationships. This is incomparably the most important work for every Christian. It is the service most needed and, generally speaking, most neglected. What activity is so highly multiplying in its influence? What so enduring in results? The present is the time of times to lift up this whole subject of comprehensive evangelism into a place of central prominence.

Throughout the world there is need of a summons to the larger evangelism. Larger in what sense? Larger in the sense of larger desire. A precursor and an accompaniment of the most spontaneous and fruitful evangelism has ever been unselfish and compelling desire. All of us are in the habit of doing what we selfishly and supremely desire [1]. Happily this desire can be created and developed.

What is the secret of generating such a pure and mastering desire to win men to Christ and his program? First, meditation on the need of men without Christ. I suggest that right here and now we take time to let our minds dwell on those we know who have not come under the sway of this wonderful Saviour and Master. Think of those who are living worldly, selfish, proud lives; of others who are living indifferent, apathetic, unresponsive lives; of those who are living narrow, contracted, atrophied lives; of those who are sorrowing and lonely; of those who are hungering and thirsting for something purer and nobler; of the many who are fiercely tempted, sin-bound, habit-bound; of men defeated and discouraged; of multitudes in the mazes of skepticism and unbelief, bewildered and in a true and graphic sense literally lost – lost in the sense Christ himself had in mind when he said he was come to seek and save that which is lost. Upon fellow men near and far in the midst of such need and bearing such burdens no sincere Christian can thus meditate without the generating in him of a Christlike desire to bring relief.

Another and an even more potent source of unselfish desire that issues in action is a reverent and responsive meditation on God as revealed in Christ – who he is, where he is, what his character is, what his ways have ever been, what his resources are, and what his commands are. Here again let it be said that such dwelling on the loving heavenly Father, the mighty Saviour, and his provision and wishes for all his human creatures invariably must prompt one to unselfish action.

The larger desire so essential to evangelism is a product not only of meditation but also of contagion. It is communicated by Christ himself. One of the most helpful sermons I ever heard was by Bishop Thoburn of India on the text, ‘the love of Christ constraineth us.’ The truth in his message which laid most powerful hold and wrought a great change in me was that love of Christ enables one to love the unlovable. I do not find this in non-Christian faiths or in the areas of unbelief. It is a divine Product.

(…)

If all men need the Gospel, if we owe the Gospel to all men, if Christ has commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, it is unquestionably our duty to give all people in our generation an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

(…)

The dictates of patriotism, as well as of loyalty to our Lord, thus call upon us to give ourselves to the world’s evangelization.”

Source: John Raleigh Mott, “That the World May Believe” (edited by Lon Allison), p. 26-28, 28, 29.

Read also “Is Street Preaching An Effective Evangelism Method?“.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Note by crosstheology: the author of this website does not agree with the idea that “all of us are in the habit of doing what we selfishly and supremely desire.” On this subject he agrees with Charles G. Finney’s “disinterested benevolence”. ‘Finney declares that obedience to the moral law may be summed up in the phrase “disinterested benevolence.” This should not be confused with “un-interested” benevolence. Finney states that “disinterested benevolence” is “the love which [the law] requires to God and our neighbor” and that it is “good willing, willing the highest good or well-being of God…for its own sake.” In other words, the love which constitutes obedience to Christ’s command is an unselfish commitment to promote the highest good of God and His moral universe. It is not founded in what one gets out of it, but rather as an end in and of itself’ Source: Jonathan Duttweiler, “Ultimate Choices: A Look at the Concept of Charles Finney”, p. 1. For a look into John R. Mott’s “Christian Hedonism”, one can read John Piper’s works on “Christian Hedonism”.

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