Many times when people talk about me in regards to evangelism they have this view of me that is not exactly entirely true. Even my own senior Pastor back in the States recently was preaching a message about evangelism and used me as an example of someone who is virtually fearless and to whom evangelism comes naturally and easy. My own family members have made comments like “when it comes to evangelism we are not like you. It is hard for us.” The reality is that I struggle with the same issues as everyone else in evangelism. I actually feel like God chose me BECAUSE I struggle and am the MOST fearful of all when it comes to evangelism. When the Lord first began to stir me up in evangelism I did not have any mentor or any valuable resources that I knew of to use. I only knew that he was very STRONGLY putting it in my heart to be VERY involved in evangelism. Those early days were extremely difficult and I believe that the Lord has granted me a dispensation of grace and wisdom in the realm of evangelism. I would like to show some practical things that I learned and have observed from my experiences.
Picture : Preaching in the Market place in Bulawayo Zimbabwe
Zeal Without Knowledge
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.(Rom 10:2-3).
Satan has vexed many zealous souls seeking to please their Master. He does it in so many ways that MOST Christians begin to view zeal as immaturity, and one is not considered to be a mature Christian until every ounce of zeal they had at the beginning has been sucked out of them. How many times a zealous man is ostracized, written off or marginalized by such statements (silently or verbally) “oh that’s just _______, don’t take him seriously he is just very zealous, when will he grow up and become ‘calm’ like us?” I am using a bit of exaggeration to illustrate a truth that is prevalent in so many Christian’s hearts. Why is it that only the new believers are zealous soul-winners? Are we not to be mature and ZEALOUS? Zeal is to be white hot or on fire for a cause or for one’s beliefs. Synonyms are “intensity” or “passion.” The indictment against Israel in Romans chapter ten was not because of their ZEAL, NO it was because of their lack of knowledge to go along with their zeal. Jesus was zealous for the house of God, and even did something rather radical with his zeal when he drove out the money changers of the temple (c.f. Psalm 69:9). Was he an immature believer acting out of impulse or was he overzealous? Scripture does not record it to be so. Phinehas in the Old Testament was said to be zealous. In his zeal for God he even killed a man and a woman in fornication with a spear (Num 25:6-13). Wow! What a radical?
Picture: preaching in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Jesus is the One Way to Eternal Life!
Was he overcome with passion and emotion in the heat of the moment? Was he immature, and just needed some time to sit in a church pew to “cool off”. The Bible does not record it to be so. We need to be zealous, white (or red) hot for Jesus. God says in Revelation “I would that you were cold or hot, nevertheless because you are lukewarm, I will spue you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16). Jesus warned that in the last times “the love of many will wax cold” (Matt 24:12).
Often times I believe that we older Christians pacify ourselves in our apathy towards the lost (i.e. our lack of zeal) by claiming to have attained to some level of maturity. If that is you I pray that God shakes you right now to realize that this is absolutely a wrong way of thinking. Zeal is not a sign of immaturity, though it is often present in new baby Christians. The zeal that we had when we first got saved is meant to follow us throughout our Christian life. We have let disappointments and difficult circumstances throw cold water on our zeal, but we desperately need the zeal to come back. Ask God to fan the flames of zeal within you once again.
Zeal is not the problem, but zeal does need to be balanced with wisdom and knowledge. The Lord lit a fire in my heart for evangelism, and I would have loved to have a mentor or someone to show me how and what to do, but that was not the Lord’s choice for me. He wanted me to learn some very important lessons and this was His way of teaching me. I had all this zeal and passion to be a soul-winner, but honestly I did not have a clue what I was doing, and it didn’t seem like anyone could understand me. I was an evangelist surrounded by teachers. I felt isolated and alone at times, and so I did the best I could with what I knew. Though, I often felt like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemene swinging the sword and nearly cutting off someone’s head. I would use the Gospel like that. I would swing the Law with all its force and condemn people to hell. I did it in my ignorant zeal for all the right reasons!
To be Continued….