In Matthew 28 we see the last command Jesus gave His followers before ascending to His Father and that was to go into all the world and make disciples. I remember being told as a young believer that Christ’s last command should always be our first concern. The problem we are currently facing as Christians is knowing that Jesus is calling us to go while the whole world is pleading for us to stay…and stay…and stay….
On one hand, if we go, we risk being viewed as careless and even putting people at risk. On the other hand, if we don’t go, we are forsaking the very command that is keeping believers on earth. This question has left many Christians to ponder if the Great Commission has been put on hold or, perhaps, can evangelism look different during complicated times like these?
Gospel Opportunities Thrives in Complicated Times
I only take Excedrin when I am convinced I have a headache coming on. Symptoms of pain lead me to seek after a solution. People don’t seek after Jesus unless they are convinced they have a need. Complicated times like COVID-19 are convincing people across our Island that they have a need. Luke 8:41-56 tells us two stories of people in great need and how it pushed them to the one with the true Cure. One was a ruler of the synagogue named Jairus whose daughter was sick and close to death while the other was a woman who had been sick for twelve years straight. Hardships don’t choose between the rich and poor or the powerful and simple. One was about to lose his only child and the other was trying to gain any glimmer of hope. Both were brought to a spot where they didn’t care what other people thought or about the social ramifications that would come with connecting themselves to the name of Jesus. The trial stripped away all they had, and all they cared about was getting to Jesus. The Cure.
Join us as Pastor Bryan Lenartz teaches on Evangelism.
Matthew 19 teaches us that those who put their trust in Christ must transfer their security from the things of this world to the care of Christ alone. We see the story of a rich man who was willing to give all to Christ except for his pocket book. Jesus is very clear that He is not looking for most of our heart, but all of it. The continual trust this young man had in his pocket book is what kept him out of Heaven. What a glorious opportunity we have today where our temporal confidences are being taken away leading us to the One True Confidence!
Right now, across our globe, many people are having the very things they have put their lives trust in stripped away from them; money, health, and fame are slowly eroding. People are looking for security…and, as believers, we have it! This last week I have seen more people reach out for help from our church then I ever have before. The spiritual fruit on Guam is ripe and ready to be harvested in ways it never has before. Your neighbor who has been putting his trust in his 401K, growing business, perfect health, or whatever it maybe is perhaps, for the first time, questioning his life’s strategy plan. He is looking for a light. May we not hide it under a bushel at this crucial time.
Gospel Opportunities Are Uniquely Tailor Made for Us
I used to work at a suit store. I was trained how to tailor clothing to fit uniquely shaped, different body types and sizes. A good tailor learns to customize clothing to give the individual the perfect fit. Have you ever thought that God tailors our opportunities for Gospel impact? No one else has the exact Gospel impact circle that we all individually have. Our neighbors, social media friends, co-workers are tailored for us to reach…and perhaps only us. Out of over 6 billion people in the world, God perfectly tailored who your next-door neighbors would be. Believers must view their impact zone as being given from their gracious Heavenly Father. This crisis might be the best opportunity we will have to reach certain people God has placed in our lives.
In Acts 16:25-32, Paul and Silas were in a sense “spiritually quarantined” in prison. They didn’t have the luxury of going door to door or freely speaking to the masses about their faith. Their feet were fastened with stocks designed to induce painful cramping. They had little to work with, but they determined to work with the little they had. The text tells us they lived out their faith visually around the few people by whom their lives were surrounded. They prayed; they sang; they cared! Fellow prisoners and guards heard their song, and it left an impact. As they prayed, God literally opened doors. Paul and Silas even had an opportunity to run from the shackles of quarantine, but they decided to stay because the opportunity was greater. This opportunity led to a prison guard and his household putting their faith in Christ.
Acts 8 records the story of Philip who was led by the Lord to the perfect spot at the perfect time. As Philip was faithfully following the Lord’s leading, a man of Ethiopia came riding past in his chariot. This man was said to be of great importance, the passage tells us he was of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who was in control of all her treasure (Acts 8:27). Because Philip was walking with the Lord, he recognized this as an opportunity and took action. Philip ran to him showing us that he didn’t want to miss this opportunity. After hearing the man was reading from the Scriptures, he knew he had an open door. This opportunity led to a man accepting Christ as His Lord and Savior. Sure, Philip might have looked weird running after a chariot, but I bet he was sure glad he took the first step!
Gospel Opportunities Need to Be Met with Creative Techniques
Every day, the news seems to be saying different things regarding how long social distancing will last. Some say a couple of weeks where other reports mention up to a year. The Christian mindset needs to start shifting to how one can begin to take advantage of this unique time in human history and – might I say – Gospel history. If 10 years from now we would be looking back at this time seeing our churches filled with individuals who were led to Him through this temporal trial, would we not all say this was worth it?
Paul was great at adapting to different situation. 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 shows us his thinking, “And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as week that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the Gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”
Right now we are called to adapt as believers. The drive for us is the Gospel’s sake just like it was for Paul. Warren Wiersbe called it total abandonment to the higher law of love. As believers, we need to pull together, strategize, encourage, and equip regarding how to reach those whom God has put in our small sphere of impact today. I’ll start with some ideas I have been implementing and thinking through…
- Looking for the times our neighbors are outside and run to them. Be cautions of their space and health, but many great conversations can be had 6 feet apart.
- Calling those who I know are struggling and asking if there is anything about which I can pray for them.
- Bringing food to those who are going through financial difficulty. Call ahead and possibly leave at the door.
- Inviting those unsaved on social media to our livestream services both broadly through posting the information and personally through a private message. Private messaging can create a conversation which could lead to follow-up).
- Checking in on an elderly neighbor – use caution and distance.
As our opportunities have changed, so should our efforts. As we are being prayerful and intentional, our list of unique, Gospel outreaches should evolve.
The Christian mission has never changed, but the way we implement that mission should constantly be assessed and adjusted to meet the need around us. The Great Commission has not been put on hold and quite possibly could be one of the most fruitful opportunities of our lifetime. We need to ask the question, “How can we strategically reach those whom God has tailor fit into our lives at this needed time?”
Pastor Bryan Lenartz
 Longman, T., & Garland, D. The Expositor's Bible Commentary (p. 166). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
 MacArthur, J. (1996). New Testament Commentary (p. 105). Chicago: Moody.
 Wiersbe, W., 1989. The Bible Exposition Commentary (p. 601). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.