I wonder if “evangelism” might receive less flack from the world if we called it “advertising?”
I know, I know, “A rose by any other name…” But “advertising” does seem quite socially accepted these days… in fact, advertisers have duped us into believing that targeted ads are no longer an annoyance, but a service.
Data collecting software now has virtually each one of us catalogued according to our personal likes and interests. This data is sold to advertisers who channel lifestyle specific products into our cyberspace activities: email, chat sites, internet browsing and social media.
“Evangelism,” however, is viewed as something quite different. Instead of the Good News which meets the soul ache of every man, woman and child across all cultures, countries and centuries, it is seen as an unwanted invasion into an individual’s more stimulating, virtual or material worlds.
Though we have become a very “spiritual” society we have grown a much more Christ-less society. Instead of looking upward we prefer to avoid the gaze of God and look inward, outward, backward or forward for answers — or try to escape the ache and look downward into the unreal worlds of our technological devices, chemical crutches or temporal treasures.
The fact that evangelism is denigrated should come as no surprise to the believer. It is part and parcel with the proclamation of the Gospel that the evangel exposes himself to what Paul called “the offense of the cross” (Gal. 5:11). Why? Because it demands we repent!
The gospel flattens human pride until, like Nebuchadnezzar*, we all become desperate creatures, naked before our Creator hoping only in His mercy to bring us life!
The “offense” is that not one of us can take pride in doing anything to effect our salvation. Indeed, as Paul expressed it to the Ephesian believers, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Nonetheless, “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). God Himself has become one of us, walked among us, died and rose again for us because indeed He yet loves us. His gift is free, and all people must be told of it.
* Read Nebuchadnezzar’s story in Daniel chap. 4
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