Even In Just a Smile
This week’s post was written by Tim Burns, one of our TSM interns and the blog editor. Enjoy!
Do you ever feel like we as Christians make this whole “evangelism” thing a lot more complicated than it should be? We organise outreach days, go to training after training and sometimes (if you’re anything like me) we try really really hard to make an impact on the people around us. But when I look at the example of Jesus (and throughout the New Testament), I see a different story. I see people empowered to bring the Kingdom wherever they go not because they’ve got the tips and tricks or they’re adept at striving for influence, but because of 3 simple words:
“Moved with compassion”.
Time after time we see this in the Gospels: Jesus acts and the Kingdom comes because of His compassion for those who are hurting. The Son of God’s very existence is shaken at the sight of one of His “little ones” suffering, so much that He can’t not act, and it’s in these moments that we see the greatest miracles in Scripture occur. It seems that the beauty of our King is such that neither the opportunity to receive praise (which He deserves) nor the expression of supreme power (which He possesses) are His motivation, but pure undiluted love for the one in front of Him.
It doesn’t take much time to notice the same process in the lives of His closest friends. Having witnessed Jesus’ heart be broken for the lost innumerable times, the disciples seemed to inherit this emotional connection from their Lord. Take for example, the healing of the lame beggar in Acts 3. Peter and John are called to by a broken man on their way to the temple, asking for money. Peter’s heart response to this can almost be felt through the text as he tells the man to look at him and declares, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6 NIV). Although the 3 words do not appear here, I believe it is impossible to picture this scene without soon noticing their presence implicitly. Peter is moved by this man’s pain and responds immediately out of that emotional response.
It’s not that strategies for evangelism or effective methods of persuasion are bad things – of course not! We need order and planning as much as we need spontaneity, perhaps even more. But when we get bogged down in numbers and stats and methodologies; when we talk all day about which words to say and how to have an influence rather than WHY to have an influence… That’s where I think we’re missing the mark. Could it be that Christ in us is more clearly seen by acts of genuine loving kindness than by big words and great demonstrations? What if causing someone to encounter the risen Jesus is as simple as just… smiling at them?
I’m not saying we get soft with the Gospel. If anything, I think it’s getting back to it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news to the poor – what happens when we remember them? It’s freedom for the captives – how many more chains could be unlocked by compassion rather than just conviction? It binds up the broken-hearted – and who is more equipped for that job than those whose hearts are broken for the broken?
Who knows what God can and will do when we choose to allow Him to move our hearts for those He puts in our path. Why not ask Him who and how to love this week – and try to make it all a bit less complicated. The Kingdom will come, and signs and wonders may well follow. After all, is there anything more supernatural than simply to love unconditionally?