On April 4th 2016, my sister, Mother and I were driving to a grocery store after I had just finished a rehearsal for an upcoming school event. That rehearsal had gone really well. I was confident that I was prepared for the real event four days later.
Confidence in public speaking is extremely necessary for effective communication. I had that. I fulfilled my role in a satisfactory manner. It felt good. But when we drove into the parking lot in front of the grocery store, all glad, warm feelings stopped. Everything paused.
I stayed in the car as I watched my Mom and sister enter the store. I was just about to start reading the book in my hand, when outside the car a man caught my attention. He was shabby in appearance, and wore a baseball cap. The man was walking towards his vehicle, and entered his car in a rather sluggish fashion. He didn’t look drunk, but almost.
I was alone. Through our car’s front window, I watched that man. I wasn’t observing him due to his not-so-great looks, since I usually don’t bother to watch people. I was watching him because in that man I saw something.
It was the face of a man who looked depressed. For numerous minutes he just sat in that car. He didn’t drive away. He didn’t even have a phone, he just sat there silently.
It was strange. It wasn’t the fact he was just sitting in the front seat of his car that struck me, it was his expression. With the vast discernment skills I possessed, I could tell he was angry. Angry, not in the light sense, but in a way that actually expresses itself in a severe form of resentment. He eventually took out a cigarette and started smoking, but that heated expression never wore off.
He seemed lost.
Lost without a Savior, lost without a justifier – lost in his sin.
Now, who am I to judge the heart of the man by his facial expression? Obviously not I, (nor anyone I suppose) since I am awful at describing things, but he did stand out to me as a man who needed Christ.
Whatever it may be, it was put on my heart to pray for the man. I had this pressing feeling, a rather uncomfortable one, to exit my car, walk towards his window and share the Gospel. As a matter of fact this would have been easy to do, since his window was down.
However, I did not do this. I uncourageously kept pondering over the man while praying to God to save his soul. I never left the vehicle.
Was that foolish? Yes. Am I proud of my response? No.
I could have shared the Gospel with him, I could have been the very means to bring him to repentance. Now I know that if God intends to save the man, he can very well accomplish His purposes without me. But still, I had failed. I had lacked the courage to preach the Gospel of Christ.
God forgives, but he also redeems. After the man left his car, it just hit me. I was living my comfortable life while there are others who are not only in desperate situations, but are lost in their sins! Can you imagine how that feels? I can only imagine a soul being tormented, a strive for fulfillment but finding nothing, a life who seeks purpose but finds none.
If there was anything I learned that day amidst my failure it was this:
There are lost people
Was this very surprising to me? Not really. I knew there were men and women who don’t have Christ. But knowledge that men are lost isn’t enough. My whole perspective changed when I actually begin to think of the torment those who live in idolatry, sexual sin, anger, depression, guilt, etc. feel. I began seeing the lost as people who are in need of being saved, instead of objects who lack something.
If God did anything, I believe He helped me realize the importance of evangelism. Evangelism is the sharing of the Gospel (the Gospel – remember that) with those who are lost. The lost are people. People who partake in the same life we do, people who share the same emotions we do, people who struggle with real problems; people who are under the bondage of sin. Only the power of the Gospel can save them from this plight.
Paul talks about evangelism in Romans,
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Romans 10: 14-15
How shall the unbelievers hear without us, Christians, to share the truth of the Gospel with the dying world? How can men come to saving faith, if we don’t have the courage to declare it to them? No, I’m not advocating that God isn’t sovereign over those who come to faith, and I’m certainly not advocating that we save men. What I’m advocating is a more serious outlook concerning evangelism.
See, its more than just a thing that we do when we’re Christians. Evangelism is an obligation. We are obligated to pray that the lost come to salvation. We’re obligated to preach the Gospel. We are to have hearts of prayer for the unbelievers! No single Christian is called to a life of passivity concerning this task, instead, God calls us to live out the Gospel in conduct and speech.
What does this mean? It simply means that we acknowledge that there are lost people, not just intellectually but through our actions, our prayer life, our passions. A love for the Gospel will be demonstrated in how you live it out. If one doesn’t live out the Gospel- the very thing that saved him – was he really saved? I dare say he might not be. A love for God and the Gospel that saved him will result in the believer growing in sanctification and spiritual growth. He might not be the most courageous believer that ever walked the planet, but there will be change.
I’m not standing on a podium. I’ve failed, and I openly declared my failure. I’ve been a coward. I’m not perfect, and I know God is helping me grow one step at a time. I pray for a heart to serve the poor and needy with the Gospel, and I know God will bless those prayers. He will certainly not turn away a heart who desires to serve.
This is what helps me stand amidst my failures: I am a child of God, and though I stumble and fall, He will not forsake me.
Do you have a heart to share the Gospel? If you do that is wonderful. God is pleased and your rewards are certainly laid secure in heaven!
But if you do not, believer – if you have the growing conviction that you have been lax regarding this call, then I urge you to come before God. Oh how we can rest upon His grace. God is a forgiving God. No matter how much you’ve failed, He has forgiven, not because of works done in righteousness, but because of Christ who is in you!
So let’s all rise up, and proclaim the Gospel!
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:16