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what is digital evangelism

What is Digital Evangelism?

If you’ve been in the Church for more than a week, you’ve likely run across the term “evangelism”. While the word evangelism has been around since the 1100’s, secular marketing and other industries have been busy expanding its definition over the past 50 years. These days, there are evangelists for pretty much everything. We have

  • Brand evangelists
  • Technology evangelists
  • Platform evangelists (has nothing to do with shoes)
  • Customer evangelists
  • Software evangelists
  • Product evangelists
  • Marketing evangelists
  • Behavioral evangelists
  • Internal evangelists
  • Food evangelists

There are even “chief evangelist officers”. No kidding.

Well today, Church, we’re stealing evangelism back.

Can I Get a Witness?

At its very basest definition, evangelism is sharing good news.

For we Christians, this means sharing thee Good News.

That’s it.

You thought you were going to get a Wikipedia definition, didn’t you?

Well, honestly, you almost did.

But truth doesn’t need to be as dusty as an encyclopedia entry. The Gospel is simple, so let’s keep ourselves simple. Jesus came to set us free. Though He continues to intercede on our behalf to the Father (and on the Father’s behalf to us,) the work of the Cross has been completed. That redemptive, restorative power has been made available to us if we yield to it.

It’s in that yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives—in not loving our own lives (agendas, calendars, possessions, ambitions, relationships and yes, even our physical lives) over Him—that allows for the transformation. From this intimate place, evangelism is born. It’s not something we have to force. As we see in the Apostles and many others since, the Good News can become so large in us it becomes something we can’t contain.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

WWW Love (Web Witnessing With Love)

Now let’s talk about the digital part. There are three means by which evangelism flows, whether offline or on.

identity evangelism

Identity Evangelism

The expression of our lives testifies to Holy Spirit indwelling—not just through our conscious effort—but through Kingdom identity and the spiritual buoyancy right identity brings, even in the face of crisis. Our right living (or supernatural conversion to right living) witnesses to family, friends and coworkers around us. Through identity evangelism, observers watch from a distance and are drawn (or repelled) by the Father’s growing light within us. While too passive to really be called a “method,” this form of evangelism is more about being the Father’s expression of love (2 Corinthians 3) than actively proclaiming the Word (though that may be present).

Eyes Wide Open

Especially in cases where the heart-shift of regeneration is quick and dramatic, those witnessing the transformation may feel uncomfortable, confused and repulsed. (Remember, Jesus did not come to bring harmony, but a sword, Matthew 10:34.) Still, we are being recast in His image and He is love. As conflict arises (and it certainly will), old ways may try to resurface (anger, pride, willfulness, etc.) If you don’t see it in Jesus, you’re not to see it in yourself. When an expression of the old flesh presents itself, don’t lose your identity to self-condemnation; press into Him more (prayer, fasting, worship) and grace will meet you there.

Digital Expression (Organic Sharing)

What does identity evangelism look like in the digital world? Well, what do your social media posts look like? What does your personal blog speak to? If people have no idea you’re a Christian, you may look too much like the world. I’ve actually seen church leaders promote violent action and horror movies on their social media channels. As in, they were excited to go and support some dark, demonic thriller with their time, money and attention and then disconnected enough from the concepts of holiness and righteousness to promote that fallen movie to their social network.

“If people have no idea you’re a Christian, you may look too much like the world.”

Are you sold enough on the Gospel to share encouraging Bible quotes with your social media followers? Do you share Bible lessons, praise music or spiritual insights currently feeding you? Do you share your church and volunteer activities online? Or are you a closeted, weekend warrior for God? We are called to be salt. We are called to be light to a darkened world. What good does it do if a person lights a candle and places the candle under a basket? (Luke 11:33)

intentional evangelism

Intentional Evangelism

If identity evangelism is passive evangelism, intentional evangelism is active outreach. Traditionally, intentional evangelism uses signs, tracts and personal testimonies through conversation. This form of evangelism tends to be more interruptive. Breaking into a person’s trance as they pass you on the sidewalk may or may not be welcomed.

Digital Expression (Paid Promotion)

If the digital expression for identity evangelism is simply sharing your reasons for the hope inside you (along with pictures of your children and the evening’s dinner), digitized intentional evangelism is actively promoting those posts. This means paying to promote the Gospel message (or content that leads to the Gospel message) across television, radio, email and Internet marketing channels (blogs, social media, email, forums). That messaging may take the form of shareable graphics, instructional videos, podcast interviews, blog articles and other brilliant, Life-giving content.

Simply sharing your love for God in comments or images on your channels is the first step, as seen in identity evangelism. However, on some social media channels, as little as 7-13% of your followers see your posts. (Open rates for email blasts can be even lower.) This means very few of your channel subscribers are seeing your content. Most channels allow you to boost your content (for a fee, of course). Just as you would buy tracts, print flyers or take your time to street evangelize, here you simply put dollars behind Kingdom messages you produce or discover.

platform evangelism

Platform Evangelism

Platform evangelism is preaching the Gospel message from the platform you’re given, whether from the pulpit at church, the office boardroom, on the playing field or in the classroom; wherever your influence lies. Essentially, you are leveraging your authority or position in a given setting to influence thinking and culture. You have the observer’s captive attention. Now deliver the message with love, respect and wisdom.

Digital Expression (Influencer Marketing)

Yes, platform evangelism is similar to intentional evangelism in its digital expression, however there are a couple distinct differences.

First, platform evangelism leverages your social currency (your influence) or that of another, while in intentional evangelism, your audience may not even know you.

Second, platform evangelism may or may not be paid by you. An itinerant preacher who gives a powerful message while visiting a church may be recorded and promoted by that church years after their actual visit. (No pressure!)

Where and When to Evangelize

If you have concluded it’s possible to operate in different stages of evangelism at the same time, you are right. These forms of evangelism overlap considerably in places.

Well? Which form of evangelism do you think is the greatest? Is platform evangelism best, where you have the potential to reach millions? Or maybe it’s the more intimate path of intentional evangelism?

I feel the greatest of these is identity evangelism. Surprised? Without first becoming love, we’re taught we become “a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13). Even if you were the last person on earth, your identity in Him would still be the most important thing to press into.

The Christian walk is one of transformation. It is a walk of spiritual restoration, not by our hands or efforts, but of His. He is the Master Potter; we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). When we charge ahead of Him and His plan for us, we risk doing damage to ourselves and others. I’m sure you’ve heard stories about evangelists who—being short on character—make very public mistakes, only to lose their position and their flock’s respect. We are refined by Him and made ready for more and more responsibility, in His time.

Final Thought: How Not to Evangelize

Is everyone going to be an evangelist? Well, no. And there is a danger in that, unfortunately. Not only is there that whole “spew you out of my mouth” message to the lukewarm church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22), but we are also counseled by Jesus that “whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

Is every Christian called to evangelism though? Yes. This is the Great Commission, after all. Jesus told us to go forth to all nations. (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, Luke 9:2) Indeed, He modeled this His entire itinerant ministry.

As mentioned earlier, you may be relieved (or slightly convicted) to hear that evangelism is actually a natural by-product of Christ within you. That means you’re not biting your lip, trying to evangelize. You’re not putting a checkmark in your proclamation box.

In fact, it may be more elegant to say we don’t evangelize (verb) as much as we become evangelists (transformation). Your evangelism will be a result of your over-the-bar heart position for the Gospel to the extent it lives in you. If you’re yielding to the Holy Spirit, dying to the Cross daily, the ensuing love affair that takes you over simply bears good fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes:

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3 NKJV)

So there we have it. We become living epistles. It all begins with identity evangelism, the fruit of His artistry in us.

Now go spread the news about the joy you have found.

matt signature


References

Wilson, Ross. November 26, 2012. How to Build Brand Evangelists with 3 Winning Examples. Ignite Social Media. Retrieved from https://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/social-media-strategy/how-to-build-brand-evangelists-with-3-winning-examples/.

 

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apologetics gospel

Apologetics: Getting to the Gospel as Soon as Possible

The Definition of Apologetics

Hearing the word “apologetics,” many immediately think of our modern understanding of what it means to apologize for something as an expression of regret. This could be understandably confusing since we are talking about Christian apologetics, potentially implying that we regret being Christians. However, to do apologetics ironically means quite the opposite of “apologizing” for something.

The word comes from the Greek prefix “apo-”, which indicates a separation or a deflection of something, and the word “logos”, which is unsurprisingly where we get our term “logic.”  So, the Greek word apologia paints a picture of something that is being deflected by way of logic. The most common definition of the word apologetics is “a reasoned defense.” (Think Jude 3.)

Side note: Imagine how the conversation would go next time you needed to apologize to someone, and you offered “a reasoned defense” of your actions.

There are apologists everywhere. Every political position, sports fan base, and brand loyalty has its apologists. Every religion has apologists who defend their faith as the one true religion. Even the nonreligious have apologists who defend the secular mindset that all religions are ultimately wrong.

When it comes to us Christians, however, we take the role of the apologist to an entirely different level. Christianity is not simply supposed to have apologists; as we shall see, every Christian is supposed to be an apologist. For Christians, apologetics is not something we simply leave to “the experts.” It is something that is very much a part of what it means to be a Christian.

The most famous usage of the word in the New Testament comes from the Apostle Peter. In 1 Peter 3:15 he gives both a directive and a definition of apologetics. There Peter states:

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The phrase translated into English as “give an answer” is actually one word in Greek. You guessed it: apologia. The command is clear. We are always to be ready with an answer, always ready to do apologetics.

Among a few qualities of what a good answer may look like, Peter zeros in on the main subject—“the hope that is in you.” Christian apologetics is a focused discipline with a singular goal, namely to bring people to the gospel. Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world and preach the gospel; Peter reminds us to be ready with an answer when they have questions about it.

The Need for Apologetics

As much as the world has changed since the first century, the Great Commission has not. All Christians have been tasked with preaching the gospel. The only alternative to evangelism, as they say, is disobedience.

Apologetics has always played a pivotal role in our evangelism. Christian apologist James Patrick Holding observed, “What we call ‘apologetics’ was, in fact, what the apostolic church would have called ‘evangelism.’” He goes on to explain, “Early missionary preaching testified to the historical realities upon which the Christian faith was grounded and called for repentance on those grounds.”

Indeed, if you were to review the evangelism of the apostles, personal and public, there is very little reliance on personal experience or emotional appeal. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-25), for example, Peter gave a textbook example of what he describes in his epistle. He appealed to Jesus’ miracles, culminating in his resurrection, and his fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies. On the basis of the historical reality of what Jesus had done, Peter calls his audience to repent and believe.

In our post-Christian secular age, the presence of apologetics in our evangelism is as important as it ever has been. Our culture is moving ever further away from a time when people had the same general understanding of God, the Bible, and religion. However, the popular consensus has changed in virtually every category. To talk to someone about the gospel today is a vastly different endeavor than it was years ago. Apologetics professor Travis Dickinson notes,

“More and more, apologetics does the work equivalent to what Bible translators do for an unreached people group. The Bible translator must get the content of the Gospel into the vernacular of the people for an individual to even grasp this content. Could the Holy Spirit miraculously allow the tribesman to understand the Gospel in a foreign language? Absolutely. However, it typically takes the hard work of translation. Likewise, God can bring conviction if He wants, but it often takes the hard work of engaging in apologetic discussion for someone to be able to grasp the content of the Gospel.”

In our evangelism, we declare what the gospel is, and what people ought to do about it. Yet, increasingly people ask why. Why should someone believe in any God, much less the one described in the Bible? Why should someone believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God in the flesh and that he rose from the dead? If God loves us so much, why do so many bad things happen to us? If God went to such great lengths to save us, why did he put us in a situation in which we need saving? These are precisely the questions Peter was talking about.

Pastor Timothy Keller explains further,

“I’ve heard plenty of Christians try to answer the why question by going back to the what. “You have to believe because Jesus is the Son of God.” But that’s answering the why with more what. Increasingly we live in a time when you can’t avoid the why question. Just giving the what (for example, a vivid gospel presentation) worked in the days when the cultural institutions created an environment in which Christianity just felt true or at least honorable. But in a post-Christendom society, in the marketplace of ideas, you have to explain why this is true, or people will just dismiss it.”

If the only alternative to evangelism is disobedience, which I believe it is, then the only alternative to apologetics is ineffectiveness.

The Point of Apologetics

While apologetics is vital to evangelism, it is also substantively different. There are two major objectives in apologetics that contrast from evangelism.

The first major objective is to provide reasons to believe. While evangelism declares what to believe, apologetics gives people a reason to do so. For example, many people are unaware of the abundance of manuscript evidence that demonstrates the reliability of the New Testament as a historical document. So, as astounding as much of the New Testament narrative is, we can give people reasons to believe what it says.

The second major objective is to remove reasons to doubt. While evangelism warns of the consequences of not believing, apologetics demonstrates that there are no good reasons not to believe. For example, many people have a problem with believing in the miraculous features of Christian belief because they supposedly conflict with modern scientific understanding. Yet, many Christian apologists have demonstrated that there is no real conflict between science and faith.


This is illustrated by one of my favorite metaphors for the relationship between apologetics and evangelism. Apologist Matt Slick gives the illustration of “what apologetics really is.” As he tells it, the gospel is like a garden in the middle of a field. That garden has one gate, which is Jesus. One path takes you right up to the gate. That path is evangelism, leading people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, for many people the journey to the garden is difficult. There are many paths that appear to head toward the garden but eventually veer off into some other direction. There are massive rocks and heavy brush obstructing the way. Then, in steps the apologist, pointing people back to the right path and clearing any obstacles ahead. The apologist may not be the gardener, and he is definitely not the gate. In fact, he needs the path, the gate, and the garden every bit as much as the people he helps. Nevertheless, he helps as many as he can along the way.

It is important to note the differences between apologetics and evangelism, or else we run the risk of treating apologetics as an end in itself. Even still, noting the differences helps us focus on the primary purpose of apologetics. It is easy to get bogged down and sidetracked by neverending debates and peripheral issues. But, doing so renders our apologetics fruitless.

Here’s the thing…

Apologetics is the process of getting people to the gospel as soon as possible.

It may be more than that, but it should never be less.


Travis Satterfield is a family man, teacher, and blogger. Here’s the thing… is a blend of his personal story of doubt and faith, his professional experience of teaching the Bible, and his passionate insight into theology, apologetics, and culture. Subscribe to receive email updates, follow on Twitter (@h_t_t_blog), and join the conversation on Facebook (@httblog).

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christian blogs accepting guest posts

Over 70 Christian Blogs Accepting Guest Posts

Christian blogs. One of the most powerful weapons in the Christian arsenal for expanding the Kingdom on earth is the printed word. Whether you’re looking to write for a Christian blog just to share ideas or simply praying for a great backlink and a little exposure for your own Christian blog, guest posting should become a regular practice.

To help you with that effort, here are the guest post submission guidelines for over 70 Christian blogs. (No kidding.)

Did we miss you? Submit the form at the bottom of this post and–if it fits–we’ll add your blog to the list.


  1. (in)courage
    http://www.incourage.me/submissions
  2. A Diligent Heart
    http://adiligentheart.com/submissions/
  3. A Rising Generation
    http://arisinggeneration.com/write-a-guest-post/
  4. AimeeBeau
    http://aimeeimbeau.com/guest-posts/
  5. Alyssa J Howard
    http://alyssajhoward.com/guest-blogging/
  6. Arabah Joy
    http://arabahjoy.com/guest-posting/
  7. Becoming Press
    http://becomingpress.com/write/
  8. Before the Cross
    http://www.beforethecross.com/guest-post/
  9. Better Than Newlyweds
    http://www.betterthannewlyweds.com/be-a-guest-blogger/
  10. Bible Jar
    http://biblejar.com/christian-guest-post/
  11. Bible Way Magazine
    http://www.biblewaymag.com/write-for-us/
  12. Boundless
    http://www.boundless.org/blog/ (the Boundless blog)
    http://www.focusonthefamily.com/about/policies/privacy-policy#posting (Focus on Family’s guest posting guidelines)
  13. Brad Andres
    http://www.bradandres.com/guest-post-submission/
  14. Broken Beautiful Bold
    http://brokenbeautifulbold.com/contact-us
  15. BronLea
    http://bronlea.com/be-my-guest/
  16. Cancer Prayer Network
    https://cancerprayernetwork.com/write-for-us/
  17. Charisma Magazine
    http://www.charismamag.com/about/write-for-us
  18. Christian Courier
    http://www.christiancourier.ca/about/category/write-for-us
  19. Christian Devotions
    http://www.christiandevotions.us/writeforus
  20. Christian Mommy Blogger
  21. Christian Stress Management
    http://www.christianstressmanagement.com/p/guest-post.html
  22. Christianity Today
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/help/about-us.html
  23. Church Mag
    https://churchm.ag/guidelines/
  24. Citizen Magazine
    https://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/citizen-magazine (the Citizen Magazine blog)
    http://media.focusonthefamily.com/topicinfo/citizen-mag-writers-guidelines.pdf (the actual guest posting guidelines)
  25. Converge Magazine
    https://convergemagazine.com/write/
  26. Crosswalk
    http://www.crosswalk.com/contact-us.html
  27. Devotional Diva
    http://www.devotionaldiva.com/become-a-diva/
  28. Devozine
    http://devozine.upperroom.org/write-for-us/writers-guidelines/
  29. Diana Leagh Matthews
    http://dianaleaghmatthews.com/submission-guidelines/
  30. Faithful Bloggers
    https://www.faithfulbloggers.com/contact-us/
  31. Gene Whitehead
    https://genewhitehead.com/guest-blogging-guidelines/
  32. Girl Defined
    https://www.girldefined.com/contact (the Girl Defined blog)
    http://www.girldefined.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Girl-Defined-Guest-Post-Guidelines-PDF.pdf (the actual guest posting guidelines)
  33. God-Sized Dreams
    http://www.godsizeddreams.com/guest-post-submissions/
  34. Gospel Blog
    http://blog.febc.org/guest-blog/
  35. Grace Love Life
    http://gracelovelife.com/advertise/
  36. Grace Table
    http://gracetable.org/write-us/
  37. Guideposts
    https://www.guideposts.org/writers-guidelines
  38. I Choose My Best Life
    http://ichoosemybestlife.com/about-us/
  39. I Love Devotionals
    http://www.ilovedevotionals.com/p/write-guest-post.html
  40. Inspirational Christians for Today
    https://inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com/to-be-considered-to-write-for-inspirational-christian-blogs/
  41. Intervarsity
    http://intervarsity.org/contact
  42. Just Between Us Magazine
    http://justbetweenus.org/writers-guidelines
  43. Marc Alan Schelske
    http://www.marcalanschelske.com/guest-posting/
  44. Money Saving Mom
    http://moneysavingmom.com/guest-post-submission-form
  45. OCF.net
    http://www.ocf.net/contact-us/
  46. Our Church
    https://blog.ourchurch.com/become-a-guest-blogger/
  47. Patty Tower
    http://pattytower.com/contact-me/guest-posts/
  48. Paul Sohn
    http://paulsohn.org/contact/
  49. Proverbs 31 Woman
    https://proverbs31woman.org/guestpost/
  50. Radical Christian Woman
    https://radicalchristianwoman.com/write-for-jesus/
  51. Redeeming God
    https://redeeminggod.com/guest-posts-for-my-blog/
  52. ReThinkNow
    https://rethinknow.org/contact/
  53. RevTrev
    http://revtrev.com/submission-guidelines/
  54. Rosann Cunningham
    http://rosanncunningham.com/guest-posts/
  55. Satisfaction Through Christ
    http://www.satisfactionthroughchrist.com/guest-post-guidelines
  56. She Loves Magazine
    http://shelovesmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/SheLoves-WritersGuidelines.pdf
  57. SiggiBlog
    http://www.siggiblog.com/write-at-siggiblog-com/
  58. Sojourners
    https://sojo.net/about-us/what-we-cover/write-us
  59. Speak the Words
    http://speakthewords.com/submissions/
  60. Start Marriage Right
    http://www.startmarriageright.com/write-with-us/
  61. The Christian Century
    https://www.christiancentury.org/submission-guidelines
  62. Theology of Work
    https://www.theologyofwork.org/
  63. The Life
    https://thelife.com/about/write
  64. The Mudroom
    http://mudroomblog.com/write-for-us/
  65. The Servant Reader
    https://levaire.com/servant-reader-blog/
  66. The Speckled Goat
    http://www.thespeckledgoatblog.com/p/featured-farmers-interview-submission.html
  67. Thriving Family
    http://www.thrivingfamily.com/ (the Thriving Family magazine)
    http://www.thrivingfamily.com/~/media/Thriving/1-articles/PDFs/TF-Writers-Guidelines.pdf (the actual guest posting guidelines)
  68. To Love, Honor, & Vacuum
    http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/contributors/guest-post-submission-guidelines/
  69. Uniquely Yours Ministries
    https://uniquelyyoursministries.com/
  70. Unveiled Wife
    https://unveiledwife.com/content-submission-guidlines/
  71. Velvet Ashes
    https://velvetashes.com/get-involved/submission-guidelines/
  72. What So Ever is Lovely Living
    http://rhiannonskeen.com/guest-post-information/
  73. Whole Magazine
    http://www.wholemagazine.org/writeforus
  74. Love Lines From God
    http://lovelinesfromgod.blogspot.com/p/write-for-us_3.html
  75. 2Me from Him
    http://www.normagail.org/category/guest-posts/
  76. Zachary Pierpont
    http://zacharypierpont.com/about-2/contact/

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turn your blog posts into enewsletters

Turn Your Blog Posts into Email Newsletters

Blogs help you quickly and easily publish compelling content about you and your services out to the world. Blogs help to connect your business to potential customers. But how do your readers know when you’ve published a new blog post?

rss to email

Simple RSS to Email by AWeber Communications

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) helps you connect your customers to your blog. The problem is, not many people know what RSS is or even how to use it. Your audience wants to connect with you, but they’re not sure how. The fact you likely don’t know how to help them connect with you makes the challenge even greater, right?! Well, blog owners, there’s an answer to this.

Aweber has made it easy to connect your blog to your newsletter (your electronic newsletter, that is). Now you can turn your blog into an email newsletter. Simply plug in your blog’s RSS feed (for WordPress sites, this is usually something like yourdomainname.com/feed/) and choose one of Aweber’s colorful templates. When you publish a new post, Aweber places your brilliant content into the email template and fires it off to your subscribers.

You can even schedule your newsletters to go out on a particular day and time in the form of a weekly digest that delivers all of your latest posts! As your subscribers click through to your posts, you’ll see an increase in readers and comments. Plus, even more readers will discover your blog as your subscribers forward your emails to them.PC Magazine Business Choice

Over the years, Aweber has been continually recognized for a high-quality email marketing experience:

  • PC Magazine 2016, Business Choice Award – Best Email Marketing Software
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Interested? If you’re tech-savvy, you can go straight to Aweber and proceed in setting up your account. If you’re a little unsure how to proceed–or if you get stuck–simply contact us and we can walk you through the next steps.

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potter and clay

Creation Identity vs Creator Identity

This message was originally written for an intra-church outreach campaign focused around an outdoor music festival called “Common Ground”. This talk was first delivered to a small team of local evangelists who met at Maranatha Church for messages, prayer and announcements prior to beginning their work at the festival. The talk speaks to personal concerns held by the evangelists, who—over the course of the outreach—had expressed challenges they were experiencing in their own lives.

Early in my career as a web designer and Internet marketer, I took a lot of pride and identity from my work. In fact, I took so much identity from my work that when I would experience trouble with a client, it would wreck me emotionally. It took me years on an emotional roller-coaster before I learned that not all clients are a fit. For every 10 to 12 jobs I took over the course of a year, one always seemed to implode. Of course, I always tried my best to salvage any project, but sometimes things just took a turn. This was a bitter pill until I learned to not glean so much of my personal identity from my work. I also learned to communicate more and to be more selective about both my clients and the contractors I hired.

Where Do We Get Our Sense of Self?

Our identity comes from one of two places: either from the world or from God. Another way to put it: our identity comes from either the creation or our Creator. Seeing as the things of this world are temporary (family, friends, culture, media, etc.,) it’s obviously best to claim our identity from our infinite God, in whose image we were created. Still, where does this broken sense of world-driven identity come from?

Genesis 3:6-10

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Good for food to whom? Pleasant to whose eyes? To make who wise? Adam and Eve decide against God’s will for them, and in choosing their own path, humanity falls into sin. Don’t think for a second your or I would have done any better. Adam and Eve walked with God, among His glorious, untarnished creation, and still, humanity fell within the first generation of a single family. The probability for this error would only be higher had there been more than two people in the beginning. This should show us something about ourselves and the nature of free will. Even a third of the host of heaven fell through free will. The problem isn’t with free will, but with what we do with it.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Self-consciousness leads to self-protection; self-preservation.

9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Of course, God knows where they are, just as He knew what they would do. God calls us to conviction, confession and repentance, as modeled first here.

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Self-centered desire leads to self-consciousness, self-focus.

Matthew 24:37-39

37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Self-indulgence and self-preoccupation.

More Examples of Self-Seeking

In Genesis 20, Abraham lies about being married to Sarah so he is not killed.

Self-preservation. Self-protection.

In 2 Samuel 11, David takes Bathsheba for his own and sends her husband into battle and certain death.

Self-gratification.

The kings of Israel and Judah were primarily self-seeking and self-motivated.

Even the great prophets often sought to save their own skins. Moses, Gideon, Saul, Jonah and Jeremiah are just some examples of great men of God who were reluctant to step out for God. Consider Moses’ reluctance in accepting God’s mission for him to return to Egypt and demand the release of the Israelites:

Exodus 3:11

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Exodus 4:1

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.

Exodus 4:10

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

Exodus 4:13

And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

NKJV

But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

Here we see Moses—considered to be one of the greatest men of God of all time—arguing with the Infinite Creator of the Universe, desperately hoping to place his will before the Father’s. The same Moses who later leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and parts the Red Sea is nervously trying to talk his way out of his God-given mission.

In contrast, we have Jesus’ example. In self-less, self-sacrifice, He died to self and took on the will of the Father.

John 5:30

30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Called to Be Light

For me, this Common Ground mission pulls me out of self. It’s not always comfortable to hand out tracts and receive rejection after rejection. Self-confidence—if that’s what we’re running upon—takes a hit after so much rejection, but love and obedience perseveres.

Fortunately, we don’t rely upon our own self-confidence. We seek to die to self, move in the Spirit and be of Kingdom service. The mission is larger than the self.

Matthew 5:15 / Luke 8:16 / Luke 11:33

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Our challenge is not only for a few nights here at Common Ground. Our mission field is in the living rooms, in the offices, on our social media channels.

When circumstances and people become uncomfortable, do we shrink away in self-preservation and self-consciousness?

Or do we die to self and stand upon the rock in the storm, in love and patience and confidence—confidence not in ourselves and our own abilities, but in our Lord?

Even at the end of the night, when we may be wondering if our time invested will bear any fruit in the people we’ve touched, we must put aside any notions of self-worth and leave the expansion of our efforts to the Holy Spirit.

Don’t Expect to Be Enough

1 Corinthians 4:10-14

10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

Paul’s words to the prideful church of Corinth act as a reminder. Even to say we are not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, not old enough, not young enough, not eloquent enough; these things are still pride. Self-consciousness. Self-focus. Self-loathing. Self-preservation. Through it all, our attention is to remain on Him.

Our Prayer

Father, we humble ourselves as servants and we step forward in love and faith and belief to minister to God’s children, believers and non-believers alike, under the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. Father, we recognize if we’re fearful and focused upon ourselves or our circumstances, we’ve taken our eyes off you and placed them upon the storm, and—like Peter—we’ll begin to sink into dark waters. So, Holy Spirit, walk with us as we commit to keeping our eyes upon you. We want only you.

I pray this, in the holy name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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