Matthew 13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!”
This is a well-known parable of Jesus addressing an important truth about his teaching. Not everyone who heard Jesus’ teaching responded in faith, for various reasons – like the seeds in the story. I suppose we all want to think of ourselves as being “good soil” bearing Kingdom fruit. On some level, the fact that you’re reading this blog post affirms this about you. 🙂
Yet what captures my attention today is verse 8:
8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
You see, good soil brings forth grain that multiplies, that reproduces itself many times over (some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty…). Such is the life of a Christian. The Lord not only wants us to embrace a life of faith, he wants us to reproduce that life in others. And the only way I know how to do that, the only way Jesus did this, is through relationships.
God brings people into our lives with whom we can build relationships and share life. And as we share life, we embody the good news of the Kingdom. And sharing the good news is called “evangelism”.
Most Christians I know don’t see themselves as evangelists, mostly because we’ve misunderstood what evangelism looks like. We think an evangelist is one with the gift of gab – who knows the right things to say at the right time. Sort of like a Billy Graham crusade. The professional talker proclaims the message of salvation and people respond. Or we think of the street preacher standing on the corner yelling at people to “repent”. In either case, this doesn’t look like us, so we leave evangelism to others.
Yet, the truth is, the far more common form of evangelism in the bible looks very different than our stereotypes. In the bible, sharing good news is not an event, but an invitation to relationship. It’s an invitation to become part of an extended family that does life together on a consistent basis – not just on Sundays, but all week long. And as we spend time together, we learn together what a life of faith looks like. This is, far and away, the most common form of evangelism in the bible. Why? Because faith is more “caught” than “taught”. Which leads me to a couple of questions:
(1) Are you part of a small group of people doing life together on a consistent basis? If you truly want to grow in faith, this is the best way I know to do so. It also happens to be the way Jesus did it.
(2) Are there people in your relational circles who are having a hard time right now? At work? At school? In your neighborhood? These are often the people who are most receptive to an invitation to community.
Lord Jesus, we all want to be fruitful Christians. Yet to do so we must be willing to do life with others on a consistent basis. Give us grace to share good news by sharing ourselves in relationships. In this way, every Christian can be an evangelist. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.