I was enjoying some cereal when I heard a distasteful “crunch.” At first I thought that the makers had accidentally included tiny stones in the cereal, but then I found that one of my fillings had decided that it had done enough time, and was leaving. I called my dentist and told him the good news.
This was my second visit to this particular dentist, so I decided it was time to cheer him up by putting a plastic cockroach onto my tongue. After the usual “Open wide” he jumped back and excitedly said that it was the first time anyone had ever done that. Then he told me about a panicking woman who had put superglue on her gums in an effort to hold in her false teeth.
After looking at the gaping cavity in my mouth, he pointed out that I needed a root-canal. To back up his words he showed me my x-ray, and said, “I can’t understand it. You should be in great pain right now. I guess the nerves are dead.” My teeth are so sensitive that it sets them on edge just to see people chewing ice. Yet there was no pain from this Grand Canyon. I could suck cold air into the cavity and smile as I did so.
Such is the key to fulfilling the daunting job of evangelism. We are dead to the pain that comes with the irksome duty because we died with Christ on the cross. We are no longer our own. We have been bought with a price for the supreme purpose of taking the message of everlasting life to a lost and dying world. When it comes to evangelism there are more important issues than me and my well-being.
For many years a friend named Scotty picked me up each Saturday, and drove me to Huntington Beach, California to preach the gospel in the open air. It was about a 30-minute drive each way and we always filled in the time by talking about the things of God. On one of these drives I said, “Tell me an adjective that comes to mind when I say this name: David.”
He told me what came to mind, and then I named another 40 or so biblical characters and we used an adjective to describe each one. It was so interesting that it changed the direction of this blog. But we aren’t simply going to look at biblical characters. We will look at their virtues and their vices as related to the irksome task of evangelism.
Before we begin to “school” ourselves, let’s define our task so that we can see what’s involved. Evangelism is telling a Hell-bound world how to find everlasting life. If I didn’t bother to tell them how to escape death, I personally believe that I would be a Judas to the cause of Christ. I would be like a doctor who by neglect of duty lets his patients die, or a lifeguard who deliberately let people drown. Or more applicably, I would be like a firefighter who let people burn when he had it in his power to save them from the flames. I would be the worst of hypocrites because I would profess to have the love of God in me, and yet my inaction proved me to be cold-hearted, and selfish. I would be the “wicked and slothful servant” of whom Jesus spoke.
But you’re not like that, because you are reading this blog. So let’s let these men and women of Scripture speak to us and help us to “train ourselves to deal personally with the unconverted”…until it becomes easier.
To be continued…