What do sex and evangelism have in common? When Christians bring these topics up in conversation, both tend to produce feelings of guilt, anxiety, and shame. I will save the talk on sex for a later date, but for now let’s talk evangelism. The guilt that comes from not being obedient to Jesus’ command (Matthew 28:18-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”) can be overwhelming. All I have to do is look at my life and see that I have fallen short of the glory of God in this area.
The anxiety and fear that comes with sharing our faith will lead us in one of two directions. The first direction is paralysis — our guilt paralyzes us into a passionless state in which we lose all enthusiasm to obey, for we are regarding man above God. We prostitute ourselves to comfort and grow indifferent towards God and His heart. The second way fear will manifest is through our pride when we become defensive and arrogant. We become controlling and take on an “I am right you are wrong attitude.” Statements such as, “I was persecuted for the sake of Christ” spew forth, when in all reality we should be saying, “I was a controlling jerk.”
When we allow guilt and fear to shape our lives as opposed to the Gospel, we stay in a state of distortion. Our minds are no longer being renewed by truth but are being swayed by our sinful flesh, the lies of the enemy, and the world. This often leads us into shame. Shame will destroy us by fueling the distortion of ourselves leading us into a place of bondage.
How do I break this crazy cycle of guilt, shame, and bondage brought about by my disobedience and a pattern of unhealthy thoughts? We need a miracle. We need God to reveal our rebellious hearts and kiss us with His mercy at the same time. God’s goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). As we embrace the truth of the gospel and receive our identity in Christ, the chains of guilt, fear, and shame are broken. By the Truth, Jesus Christ releases us into freedom, a freedom to love God in a greater capacity, a freedom to love others in a greater capacity. God’s love fills us, and as we are filled with God He spills over, touching all around us. We find ourselves loving our enemies instead of avoiding them, blessing our neighbors who curse us, doing good to those who hate us, and praying for those who spitefully use and persecute us.
Our evangelism must be based on God’s love and freedom, not on guilt. This is the only way we can fulfill the Great Commission. Evangelism is not a method to be used, or a program that can be taught, or an argument to be won. True evangelism will flow from a heart that is connected to God. This is not a duty to be performed but a privilege to be delighted in. Will you join with me on this journey? Let us together break the chains of shame! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).