September on my Mind- Compassionate Evangelism
“When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”- Matthew 9:36-38
In November 2004 our southland was ripe for harvest as the ground shook with echoes of revival and celebrations of salvation. That was the last time the Reverend Billy Graham did a crusade in Los Angeles. Many churches came together with a common mission and united front to see the gospel preached and the kingdom filled! One of my lasting memories from that crusade came during a Pre-Crusade pastor’s orientation gathering. At that meeting several pastors spoke, including Rick Warren (pastor of Saddleback Church). Pastor Warren said something that has stuck with me ever since, “We get frustrated by crowds. We try to avoid crowds. Jesus not only looked for crowds, He liked them!”
Living in Southern California, we know a thing or two about crowds. Just drive on the 101 or 405 freeway, take a day to enjoy the rides (I mean wait in line) at Disneyland, and let’s not even talk about going to the DMV without an appointment. Jesus, however, was not a crowd avoider, He was a crowd gatherer. He would teach the crowds about the kingdom; He would touch the crowds with healing power; and would love the crowds with the heart of the Father.
Our third pillar is COMPASSIONATE EVANGELISM. We are called to follow Jesus’ model of loving compassion. Ephesians 4:32-5:2 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Compassionate Evangelism moves us to a deeper level where we are stretched in our capacity to love more and more like Jesus loved.
There are two primary ideas to Compassionate Evangelism. First, we do not become offended or worked up when someone says “No” to Jesus. When people reject the invitation, resist the message, and even walk away from your offer to pray for them, it is important to remember the amount of times you said “No” to Jesus before saying “Yes”. Jesus said it this way in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Secondly, as weird and way off as a person’s beliefs, values, and words are to you, remember that they view what we believe, think, and say as being weird too! They can’t comprehend there being only one way to God or the hope and joy that we possess.
Please remember, the person who is lost and blind can’t see clearly and is often tripping up. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” Church, as we look to shine our light, let’s ask the Lord to enlighten our understanding of what the person is going through. The Spirit will give us a heart of love for them, the right words to speak to them, and the prayers to pray for them!