The best definition of evangelism that I have encountered is this: “Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” For years I had attributed this quote to Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and author of ‘The Four Spiritual Laws.’ But as I went looking to verify this this morning I discovered there are several thought to have originated it (see photos).
Regardless of its origin, there are several reasons why I very much like this definition:
- It acknowledges that the one who has the bread is indeed no more worthy of it than the one who has not yet received it.
- It demonstrates that there can be no other mediator: the first beggar cannot bring bread for others, he can only point to its Source; each beggar must come to the Loaf oneself. As someone else once said, “There are no ‘second generation’ Christians.”
- It shows that evangelism is very simple, and is do-able by the most common of humankind. We cannot make the bread, only eat of it. Then, being nourished ourselves, we can point others to it… to Him… to Christ.
You see, we do not need to argue or prove the existence of the Bread. We do not need to argue about the route to the Bread, we need only to have partake of the Bread ourselves, found our bellies now full, our countenance now brighter, and our energies renewed. We need only to tell our story as it is.
There is a lovely incident recorded in 2 Kings 7 which parallels this definition…
The Arameans had laid siege against Samaria. The city was in dire famine. Four lepers sat at the city gate and reasoned “If we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” Caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ they decide to go for broke and take their chances. But when they arrive at the enemy camp they find the entire area abandoned!
Initially they begin to feast and pillage, carrying off as much gold and garments as they can carry. Then they realize, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves…Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” (v.9)
They do so, and in doing become evangels – tellers of “good news” to others who are hungry.
In God’s economy we are all beggars… all evangels. So if you’ve found this Bread, get out there and tell others. Hurry… they are hungry!
Next Thursday: God’s Will
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