Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When Ministry becomes an Outflow...

Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to tell people about Jesus. Growing up, we had friends who were missionaries in Indonesia. Every four years they came home on furlough, and every four years we would connect with them again, see their pictures, and hear their stories.

I remember one particular night, I must have been only 8 or 10 years old, crying myself to sleep after a night spent with these friends. My young heart, already so passionate, broke at the thought of all these Indonesian people living in remote villages who had never even heard the name of Jesus before. I remember laying in my bed, crying, pleading, "Jesus, I want to go. I want to tell them about you! Let me go tell them!"

In my teens I was fascinated by "witnessing" - explaining to others who Jesus is. I bought a book on witnessing and dove into it. Throughout the whole book, I was so convicted and stirred. I knew I needed to share the Gospel with people, but I had absolutely no clue what that meant or looked like - and I was terrified (especially being a naturally shy person). But still, somehow, this unspeakable urge continued to grow inside of me.

I remember one day, I was probably a junior or senior in high school, and my best friends and I were hanging out, chatting, in the pool. The subject somehow turned to evangelism (knowing me I probably brought it up, lol!!) and I shared with them how I felt like witnessing was something I - we - needed to do. Yes, I brought all them into this. :) At that point I still had absolutely no grid for what that actually meant - I just knew that it was something the Bible said to do, and if you were a "really good Christian" it's something you should do. For some reason, they decided to go along with it, and the next day, we went to a park. I have absolutely no recollection of the conversation/s we had with people there but I do remember that we tried to talk to people (at least one lady) and it was awkward and none of us had a clue what we were doing.

I laugh thinking about that experience now.

Praise God, I've learned and grown a lot in the area of evangelism in the last few years... mostly from following around people who are gifted in evangelism, just doing it, and having conversations with Jesus about it. :)

But in the last few weeks I've seen so much breakthrough in this area of my life, and I want to share it with you.

If evangelism, and ministry as a whole, are coming from a place of "I should/need to do this", I think we're missing the point entirely. Even if we're loving them, but we're striving to "get people saved", I think we're falling short of the beauty, the simplicity, the easiness and even the joy of evangelism! And yes, I did say easy. I'm finding, the more you learn, the more you practice, evangelism is EASY. It is the most natural thing in the world.

Evangelism becomes easy because it become an outflow of the crazy, unexplainable love and grace I've received. It's sounds too simple, but it really IS THIS EASY.  I have experienced the unconditional love of a Father who says I'm absolutely incredible. And I get to share that with people!! So when I'm in the grocery store, and I see someone with crutches, and God puts a little stirring in my heart to go pray for them, I get to walk over and share the beauty of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. I get to tell them that I believe in Jesus, and that he's real, and that he told me to come over and pray for them - that God sees them, and knows them,  and loves them. That they're not alone, but fully known and fully loved. And I get to pray for healing for their ankle, and even if I don't see anything happen, they are still touched that someone cared enough to talk with and pray for them - and ultimately that God is thinking about them and caring about them.

It means that when I'm out doing one of my most favorite things in the world, dancing, (salsa dancing in this instance), and the guy I'm dancing with asks me what I do, I get to tell him that I'm a missionary. That I love Jesus. And we end up dancing 3 dances in a row simply because he's curious to know why I would give my life so fully to a "religion". That's the thing, though - I've not given my life to a religion! I've given it to a person. My best friend. And He is so desperately in love with me and the rest of the world and he wants them to know it!! And so I get to share it. And so by the end of our 3-dance conversation, he asks if I can send him the info for my church because he's curious to know more about a relationship with Jesus.

Because GOD IS REAL!!! He's not a concept. He's not a religion. He's not a distant someone we are trying to please. He's a PERSON. That is madly in love with this hurting, broken world. That, because of Jesus, accepts us no matter what we've done. We don't have to please him. He's ALREADY pleased with us. And then, when we believe this is true, he chooses to use US to demonstrate this passionate love to the dying world!!! If that isn't crazy, radical, and beautiful, then I don't know what is.

It is a beauty, an honor, and a privilege to carry and release the radical love of a personal God to this world. And, aside from purely knowing, loving, and seeking Jesus myself, it is the most fun, exhilarating, LIFE-GIVING thing I ever do. Period. Nothing else comes closes. Because I love him. And he loves me. And I get to bring that to others so they can experience this same passionate, radical love and unconditional acceptance.

So I want to challenge you. What if you just told someone today that Jesus saw them and is thinking about them and loves them? What if you asked the Holy Spirit if there was someone that needed to hear about hope, or love, or grace? It's not about giving people information - it's sharing what you've received. And so I want to invite YOU - will you pour out what you have received? If you know his love deep in your heart, then overflow that. If you've had an encounter with his grace, share it. You can't overflow what you haven't received. And if you're simply trying to dispense information or "get someone saved", we've come back to trying to do stuff in our own efforts - which won't get us very far.

So I propose to you that evangelism is easy. That's it's just loving people, and showing them that it's the love of Jesus pursuing their hearts. It might be nerve-wracking at first, but just go for it. The more you practice, the easier it will be.

I don't want any of you to miss out on this joy. And I don't want Jesus to not receive what he paid for. Because he is worthy of everything. Let your love for others, and ministry, and evangelism be an OVERFLOW of what you've received - his perfect, beautiful love.