When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” – John 12:36-50
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 10:26-33
Evangelism. For some, this is an ugly word. It is painful. We feel coerced into taking actions with which we are uncomfortable. We don’t want to confront other people with a message that could end up a bit confrontational. Be honest, most of us are in this camp. We feel ill-equipped to get into an apologetic conversation where our intellectual preparation will be challenged. The other guy will probably have a better grasp of the issues than I have and I don’t want to fail the Lord and, probably, even more, I don’t want to be embarrassed. Do you feel me?
That is why I so admire and frankly am somewhat jealous of, those folks who are truly gifted as evangelists. They don’t seem to have the same human limitations that I have. That thought is both true and not true. These folks face many of the same fears that you and I do, but due to God’s gifting, they are empowered to plow right through those barriers to evangelistic success. That is why God’s spiritual gifts are called “graces.” They are gifts of grace bestowed on whom God chooses. And, remember, God is doing the work, not the evangelist.
But, back to we who are not gifted as evangelists, Jesus speaks some very encouraging words that should help us get over our fear barriers.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven…”
Some might say that when I was a zealous young man I was much more bold to do and speak for Jesus. I don’t think so. I think I was just a young zealous immature man who loved Jesus and would attempt most anything if I believed he wanted me to do it. Not a lot of wisdom in those early years…although admittedly I did have a lot of fun in Jesus name.
The truth is that I now, in my seventh decade of walking with Jesus, have much greater peace and faith to speak, do and dare for Jesus. That has come from decades of walking with him and living in his word. Decades of experiencing his graceful provision. Decades of not being forsaken but instead being held closely. Today, I have to say I don’t care (in the good sense) what someone thinks when I live my faith, which means speaking or writing about it as well as doing it. I am a long ways from having perfected this walk of faith. But I want to write a word of encouragement to you who don’t have multiple decades of walking with Jesus to trust him when he says, “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Tell your family, friends, and acquaintances the good news. Don’t worry about suffering consequences (not that there may not be some and maybe even some drastic ones.) You will not be left alone. If you suffer because you share the good news, you will discover the joy of God’s love in persecution. You may also discover a new brother or sister in the Lord. You may find yourself to be playing the spiritual midwife.
Never fear to talk about Jesus.