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“Tell everyone God’s message. Be ready at all times to do whatever is needed” (2 Timothy 4:2 ERV).

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, ORDINARY CHRISTIANS WERE EVANGELISTIC. It wasn’t just the evangelists — everybody “preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went” (Acts 8:4 NLT). Even under persecution (especially under persecution, it seems) the followers of Jesus spread the word of forgiveness and eternal hope.

Today, it is tragically true that we who follow Jesus are not as evangelistic as they were. We are reluctant to talk about the gospel, and most of us rarely do it except when we’re in the company of fellow believers. We have disengaged from the world in such a way that we have little evangelistic impact in our communities.

To be sure, not everyone is equally adept at talking with strangers, nor is every member of the Lord’s church equally skilled at teaching. In the body of Christ, as in a human body, “the members do not all have the same function” (Romans 12:4).

But how can we enjoy the benefits of the gospel ourselves and not want to do something to share those benefits with other people? In some kind of personal way, we should want to reach those around us with the message that has brought us such great joy.

We can at least do what Jesus told the man to do in Mark 5:1–20. In that account, Jesus had healed a man of his demonic possession, and in profound reverence and gratitude, this man wanted to get in the boat and accompany Jesus back across the Sea of Galilee. But Jesus wanted him to do something even better: “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (v.19).

If nothing else, we can explain what convinced us the gospel is true. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). If we had our own doubts, we can tell others what truths overcame those doubts.

For those forgiven of their sins, sharing the faith is not optional. There is no alternative. If we bottle up our faith and keep quiet about it, as if we were ashamed of Christ, our faith will die.

“Our faith grows by expression. If we want to keep our faith, we must share it” (Billy Graham).

Gary Henry — +

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