Today’s Reading: John 7:1-30 (additional reading: Psalm 108:1-13 & Proverbs 15:4)
A survey was given to those attending training sessions for a Billy Graham crusade in Detroit. One question asked, “What is your greatest hindrance to witnessing?” Nine percent said they were too busy to remember to do it. Twenty-eight percent felt the lack of real information to share. None said they didn’t really care. Twelve percent said their own lives were not speaking as they should. But by far the largest group were the 51 percent whose biggest problem was the fear of how the other person would react!
In today’s text we see this has been a common problem for a long time. Verse 12 says “Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.
Walter J. Chantry said “There are no easy steps to witnessing! No painless, unembarrassing methods! You must bring men to see that they are filthy sinners under the wrath of God who must flee to Christ for mercy. That is offensive. And there is no way to coat it with honey.”
Aren’t the most popular mission trips the ones that take us far from our own neighborhood? Russia is easy; our own neighborhood is a constant challenge. Has anyone consistently had the boldness and clarity of Jesus in testifying about the gospel? Never. Has anyone consistently avoided the fear of man in evangelism? Certainly not. There is a “foolishness” inherent in the message of the cross. The clear proclamation of the gospel does not make us look good. It doesn’t make us popular.
Donald Whitney wrote: I think the seriousness of evangelism is the main reason it frightens us. We realize that in talking with someone about Christ, Heaven and hell are at stake. The eternal destiny of the person is the issue. And even when we rightly believe that the results of the encounter are in God’s hands and that we are not accountable for the person’s response to the gospel, we still sense a solemn duty to communicate the message faithfully coupled with a holy dread of saying or doing anything that would be a stumbling block to this person’s salvation. Many Christians feel too unprepared for this kind of challenge, or simply have too little faith and are terrified of entering into such an eternally important situation.
The way we understand the Gospel will inform the way we do evangelism. The way we do evangelism will inform the way our hearers understand the Gospel. The way our hearers understand the Gospel will inform the way they live the Gospel. The way our hearers live the Gospel will have a direct bearing on the corporate witness of our churches in our communities. The corporate witness of our churches will in turn make our evangelism either easier or harder, depending on whether that witness is a help or a hindrance. And difficulty, or lack thereof, in evangelism will come to bear on our church planting efforts, which brings us back to laying foundations.