“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19)
As we are called and tasked with evangelizing to the gentiles, James stands among the apostles and recites than main point of evangelism in the first place. If we want to add to the Kingdom, why would we make acceptance into the family of Christ so difficult? Why would we present and obstacle course for new believers to defeat before being called citizens of Heaven?
Now, I get the whole point, the endgame if you will, is transformation. But, what James proclaims to his fellow apostles here in Acts give immediate action to the intention of Evangelism. It’s an invitation to Jesus, not an interrogation. As we evangelize…
- We need to make the message of the Gospel clear and concise. “People aren’t tired of the Gospel, they’re tired of tired presentations of the Gospel.” What’s key here is that what was “tired” 20 years ago may be exciting now. We need to constantly tune our presentations to be relevant and rooted in the word of God.
- We can never compromise what the Bible says, but Jesus went to the lowest of places, met with the seediest of individuals. He loved on all of them. He didn’t condone them, but offered grace and repentance. I believe that right there is the key. The command is to love people, plain and simple.
- Which leads to #3, that as we love people, we love them so much to not let them stay the way they are. It may start with a creative presentation, but that’s just clearing the path for the Holy Spirit to do His thing. If we leave it at that then people may be inspired for moment. We say at New Hope that “a mind can reach a mind, but only a heart can reach a heart.” When we connect heart to heart that’s where we go from inspiration to transformation.
While James makes this powerful statement, his follow up is what makes the effort of evangelism complete. Yes, we will make the path to Jesus easy to receive, but we will not compromise who or what Jesus represents. Only then is the evangelism of the Gospel made complete. The verse immediately after James statement he says, “'Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” While the presentation and door needs to remain open and easily accessible, once they’re in the goal is transformation. Evangelism to Edification to Equipping to Extension.
Jesus, I pray we may never treat Your kingdom as some elite organization to join, but as a family welcoming everyone and anyone home. May our signpost be clear and concise and rooted in Your word. I pray you give us the right tools for the harvest for this specific season as we follow Your fire by night and could by day.