Not them. Not now. Not me.
We all know that we are called to share the Good News, but we resist that call with the common excuses listed above. In last week’s article, Philip the Evangelist challenged each excuse, having taught us to cross barriers and boundaries with the Gospel. The people whom the Church tended to ignore or to write off as beyond reach, those are the people Philip pursued. Lord, forgive us for excluding people with the thought, “Not them.”
The most subtle and simple of our excuses is also the most effective in hindering us, “Not now.” “Oh, I know that Christ calls me to share the Good News, and I fully intend to do so, but not right now.” This kind of delayed obedience turns into a lifetime marked by disobedience. We tend to say, “I will share the Good News with my neighbor tomorrow, next week—later.” Remember old James hits us with the cold hard truth: “To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Philip does the work of evangelism consistently. He is never waiting for a better time. That is one of the reasons why he is so effective. Remember, the church in Jerusalem is forced from their home by persecution. In the midst of this season of hurt and heartache, Philip finds himself in Samaria. Does he lay low and lick his wounds? No! Philip shares the Good News even in the midst of pain and dislocation.
We often avoid our obligation and opportunity to share the Good News by saying or thinking— “Not now. My life is a mess right now. I will share the Good News later.” Or we may perhaps use any of the following excuses: I will be faithful in evangelism when I am not sick, when I am not so busy, when I have children, when my children are raised, when I get a job, when I retire. Any excuse to delay will do, but we need to remember today is the day of salvation.
The church at Jerusalem teaches us this important lesson. “Those who had been scattered went about preaching the Word” (Acts 8:4). In this verse, “preaching” is our word “evangelism.” Their pain was an opportunity to share the Good News. When we are suffering, when we carry the burden of grief, when we are sick or lonely or under stress, we have a platform for the Gospel. People listen to us in these dark seasons of life. When times are not good, it is a good time to share the Good News of Jesus.
Yes, them. Yes, now. “For the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for whoever will call on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:12-13).