It’s not that I’m bad at evangelism. I know the Gospel. I can quote scripture. I’ve done training several times and even researched training methods. In seminary, I had to share my faith at least once a week. So while there may be times when I am a little out of practice, overall, I know how to share my faith. My problem is that I make excuses. These excuses are sins and I need to repent.
Where I am quick to make excuses, I’m impressed with how Paul defended his rights to share the Gospel. In 2 Corinthians 2-6, Paul writes in response to critics of his ministry. These critics saw him unfit for evangelism and ministry because he was rejected by so many, suffered too much, and seemed too passionate. Facing the criticism, Paul responds to every reason why he is fit to share Christ.
Below are four excuses I often make to opt out of sharing my faith. Each excuse is followed with an answer from Paul. These verses are taken out of 2 Corinthians 3-5.
Excuse #1: “I just lack confidence and I won’t do a good job sharing.”
Answer: “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Paul, rather than boasting in his own ministry, gives credit to God. Paul’s confidence is not in his own personal ministry skills. Instead, his confidence comes through Christ towards God.
I don’t know about you, but I feel pressure to have smooth transitions, simple illustrations, and persuasive slogans. Honestly, I think to myself that if I can share the Gospel well enough then people will respond. However, in the moments of opportunity I often don’t share because I am not confident in my ability. So I excuse myself thinking it is better for a person not to hear than to hear a poor presentation.
This mindset limits Christ and misplaces where our confidence should lie. So when the excuse replays that you lack confidence, remind yourself that confidence for evangelism does not rest in you. The Holy Spirit alone transforms; confidence rests in the Spirit.
Excuse #2: “But I don’t want to be rejected.”
Answer: “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” 2 Corinthians 4:4-5a
No evangelist has ever experienced 100% receptive response; Paul certainly did not. He actually experienced more rejection than acceptance. In fact, it is beneficial and comforting to note that his rejection led him to the people who would eventually respond.
In 2 Corinthians 3:7-19, Paul describes how glorious the Gospel message is compared to the old covenant. Paul reasons that if the old covenant came in glory, yet brought condemnation and death; then, how much more glorious is the new covenant when it comes with righteousness and life?
However, the question Paul likely faced from critics was, why are people rejecting the Gospel if it is so glorious? And if people are rejecting it so much, shouldn’t that cause one to reevaluate whether he or she is sharing the right message?
In response, 2 Corinthians 4:4-5 explains why people reject. The reason is because the god of this world has blinded minds of unbelievers. The phrase “god of this world” refers to Satan. Jesus in the “Parable of the Sower” explains similarly. One of the reasons why the seed is not able to reproduce is because birds come and snatch it up before it can take root. Jesus explained, “when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them” (Mark 4:15). Evangelism is more than just a conversation between two people. Evangelism is a spiritual warfare between God and Satan. Your Gospel conversations engage the fight. Facing rejection as a witness is never simply someone saying “No.” Rejection is the result of Satan blinding the minds of unbelievers. Don’t let the possibility of rejection excuse you from giving the opportunity for some to accept.
Excuse #3: “I can’t be focused on sharing my faith when I have so many trials of my own.”
Answer: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:11
A criticism Paul faced was that he suffered too much. People thought that his message was not valid because he suffered. However, Paul responds that his suffering gave him a greater chance to share his faith. Paul’s suffering showed that God’s surpassing power belonged to Him, not Paul. And when he was given over to death, the life of Christ was most manifested.
It is easy for us to think that evangelism is something we do only when everything else in life is in order. The thought is that once my life is put together, then my evangelistic message is more effective. In other words, people won’t believe me until they see my pleasant life. The message we hope to convey is that Christ has made my life great, therefore people will want to believe in Christ in order to have my kind of life.
There are at least two problems with this mindset. First, people’s perception of us becomes more important than our actual witness for Christ. The trouble with this thought process is that Christ never promises us a perfect life on earth. Life is hard; rarely do we think everything in life is going perfect. It is easy to think someone else’s life is better than ours so they should witness, not me. In the end, we excuse ourselves.
A second fault with this view is it fails to see the value that Christ has in the midst of trials. I remember once being asked, “What makes Christ look great? Is it when everything in your life is going well? Or when everything in life is going horrible and you still say, ‘Christ is enough, my portion, and my joy?’” This is Paul’s point: the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. Christ’s strength is most clearly seen in our weaknesses. Our joy for Christ is most clearly noticed in the midst of our sorrows.
I certainly don’t want to minimize the difficulty of trials, but neither do I want us to waste one of our greatest opportunities to share Christ. From personal experience, I know that one of the things that gave me the most comfort during my trials is knowing the trial is used to advance the Gospel.
Excuse #4: “But I don’t want to be seen as one of those radical ‘Jesus Freaks.’ If I share my faith, my public reputation will suffer.”
Answer: “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” 2 Corinthians 5:11
“For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-14a
For me, this excuse comes in the forms of: “I don’t want to appear weird.” “I don’t want to be perceived as one of those street corner preachers with a megaphone.” “I don’t want to create awkwardness in an existing friendship by stirring up an uncomfortable conversation.” However, in response, isn’t the risk of awkwardness or weirdness far better than a person spending an eternity in hell? Shouldn’t love motivate us past the fear of what others might think?
In the critique that he was too radical, Paul explained that any radical perception was due to the fact that he was motivated by God’s love for others, his own love for God, and his love for people. Knowing what we know about the Gospel, we would be weird not to share it. We are radically foolish to do nothing when we know that the Gospel is the only way to find eternal life.
Conclusion: “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.” 2 Corinthians 6:2b-3