Originally published Monday, 02 July 2012.
Even in the dictionary, these two words, "evangelism" and "apologetics," are different, are not the same thing.
And yet, I think that as Christians, we tend to melt the two together to be one, thinking that if we are going to “evangelize” then that means we have to have all of the answers about why God allows suffering and what going to hell means and how old the Earth is and whether King David really lived or why God does this or says that or what this or that really means.
Having all the answers to those kinds of questions falls into the "apologetics" category. They're good questions and ones that many of us wrestle with, to be sure. But do we have to have the answers to them?
Too often, I think that we assume that if we're going to "proclaim the gospel" (meaning, "evangelize"), then we must. We think that to share the gospel, we have to be able to defend Scripture and pull verses up from memory for every discourse. We think that if we’re going to share the Good News, then we have to be able to do it in 60 seconds or less and start off with the question, “If you died today, where would you go?” and then explain it all in context of Revelation and the bowls and plagues and horsemen and scrolls.
It’s enough to make even the boldest and bravest of Christians shrink back from the task.
And yet, if we look back at those definitions, we’ll see that evangelism simply asks us to “proclaim the gospel.” It doesn’t say anything about scientific equations or archaeological digs or cosmic evidence. It doesn’t say anything about knowing Hebrew or the ability to open the Bible to the exact page you intended without looking.
They're not bad questions and it certainly doesn't hurt if you have studied those kinds of hard questions and know the Hebrew and Greek of the original texts. Of course it is helpful when we're sharing the gospel to know verses and know Jesus' words and able to share those legacies of our faith with the people we're talking to.
But must we know it all? Must we have it all figured out before we evangelize?
A pastor once told me that if we want to evangelize, we should focus less on all academic and theological and classroom stuff, and focus instead on Jesus, plain and simple. Focus on Jesus and how his good news has affected me. Tell people about how he has changed my life and how he has shown me his love and how he’s saved me time and time again.
Proclaiming the gospel can simply be us taking the time to strip down to the bare bones of our faith walk and share what we’ve experienced of Jesus, firsthand.
Because then we can’t use any excuses when it comes to being inadequate or untrained. I may not have all the answers, but I can share my own story. And maybe, that’s all that it takes…
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.
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