Obstacles to Evangelism – Part V (Fear)

So far most of the obstacles that we have considered have had a distinctly theological edge to them (or at least the solutions to those obstacles were theological in nature).

This one is a bit simpler (although the solution no doubt will end up being theological, no doubt).  Fear.

We start out with the best of intentions to talk with a neighbor, co-worker, classmate, or stranger, but then we simply chicken out.  I have done it numerous times.  Maybe you have too.

Evangelism (like prayer) is one of those subjects that can easily lend itself toward producing a guilt complex.  Why?  We know that we should be doing it, or doing a better job of it than we are.  We know it is critically important. (Lives are at stake.)  And yet we often struggle at making even the most meager attempts at it.

Why are we so afraid?

Writing of the sufferings of the Apostle Paul as detailed in the book of Acts, John Stott writes,

Witness to Christ involves suffering for Christ. It is not an accident that the Greek word for witness (martys) came to be associated with martyrdom. ‘Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship’, wrote Bonhoeffer. (The Message of Acts, p.179)

So we must be prepared for the possibility of suffering in some way if we are going to be faithful in testifying to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And that should not be all that surprising, as the message of the gospel itself centers on the suffering & death of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners.

But while we must be prepared for the possibility of suffering for the sake of the gospel, we should also (perhaps even more so) be prepared to see the risen & ascended Lord Jesus do marvelous things through the faithful proclamation of the gospel.

Why?  The book of Acts teaches this lesson to us over & over again.  Luke (the writer) is very frank about the terrible sufferings that the church endured for the sake of the gospel.  But he also makes it abundantly clear throughout the book that the Lord Jesus Christ used all of that to further advance the spread of the gospel.

We may suffer along the way for our witness to the gospel, but we can be sure that the One who is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty will bless that same witness unto the salvation of many sinners.  Disciples will be made unto the glory of God.

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