Welcome to the Lifestyle Evangelism 12-part series. I'm so excited to journey through the next twelve weeks with you, and I look forward to the responses, as well as the growth we'll share. Writing this series has been enriching and inspiring for me, and I believe it can serve as another tool in the toolbox of our faith.
Why am I writing this series? It's been incredible for me to see a number of ministry efforts around the world that encourage thinking outside of the box, and I find more and more Christian groups inviting an atmosphere of personal reflection, as well as sober judgment of familiarity. There are grassroots coalitions being formed to reach parts of the world yet unreached, and there are passionate, fervent hearts all over the earth giving up everything to see the world evangelized. Some of us may know a person with a heart and life like this, and we can attest to the faith-building glow that illuminates from their readiness to go where the Spirit takes them. Still, I'm confronted with the heavy reality that more people are being born each day-- and are dying each day-- than will have hear the Gospel message. It's a heart-breaking reality that the world continues to darken each day; however, light shines best in the darkest places. To me, this means the opportunities I do have to share with someone is precious, each and every time, and that perhaps I can create more opportunities, and maybe even better prepare for each person I encounter. In my own life (perhaps some of you too?), I am used to a certain way of doing things. When I wake up in the morning, I brush my teeth. When I park my car, I use the parking brake even though I drive an automatic. When I drink coffee, I drink it black (unless at Starbucks, because they roast their coffee a bit differently than I'm fond of). Sometimes, I need the help of the gracious friends in my life to steer me away from doing things the way I do them, and toward a more righteous, more effective -- better -- way of doing them. Admittedly, I feel more than unworthy to be writing about evangelism, as there are areas in my life that lack conviction, and there are opportunities that have come and gone, people I've interacted with about everything except Jesus, and situations whereby I've quenched the Spirit of God within me. The examples I look to are Jesus and the apostles, but I sometimes feel that measuring up to the standard that they set is unattainable. Nevertheless, the last several years has waged war with my heart, and I've realized what I believe are simple, life-changing truths about walking, talking, and living a lifestyle of Gospel-driven purpose and zeal. To "live as Jesus lived" (1 John 2:6) is an incredible privilege, and my desire is to illustrate the basic, Biblical principles found in New Testament that teach us godliness and love, and that transform us into men and women who evangelize with their lives. Surely my own life will benefit from this series; I hope yours will too. Before the series begins, I think it's important to define terms. Lifestyle Evangelism is two-fold.
Our understanding of what it is "to evangelize" is rooted in the Greek word euangelisasthai (εὐαγγελίσασθαι), meaning to bring good news, preach, declare, or share good tidings. In the New Testament, this word was often used when referring to the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ in the New Covenant, established by Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. This form of the word appears four times in the Textus Receptus Greek NT:
"And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." Acts 16:10 ESV "So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome." Romans 1:15 HCSB ". . . so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory." 2 Corinthians 10:16 NIV "To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, topreach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ . . ." Ephesians 3:8 ESV
Further, the present participle of the verb "to evangelize", or euangelizomenoi(εὐαγγελιζόμενοι) is rendered evangelizing, proclaiming, preaching, etc., and appears another seven times; Luke 9:6, Acts 5:42, Acts 8:4, Acts 11:20, Acts 14:7, Acts 14:15, Acts 15:35. Beside these occurrences, the the root of the word appears another 41 different times in the New Testament. Alongside the appearance of this word, the New Testament is full of countless examples of this word being lived and exemplified.
"Life-style" was a term originally coined in 1929 by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler (1). When it was first used, it referred to the character development in a child from an early age; it's since been used for the general way that a person consistently, habitually lives. A person's lifestyle might refer to their abiding culture, or whether they eat healthy or exercise. A regularly exhausted individual might have a demanding lifestyle, while the lifestyle of a small child is free and careless. Everyone has a lifestyle, and everyone has habits. Whether or not these habits constitute a lifestyle of evangelism is the question we ask in this series. Throughout this series, we will focus on a number of scriptures showing the continuously evangelistic lifestyle of characters in the New Testament:
"He set out from there and went to the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Then crowds converged on Him again and, as He usually did, He began teaching them once more." Mark 10:1
"As usual, Paul went to the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures . . ." Acts 17:2
Scriptures like these will help us to understand the constant mindset of the early disciples to dent the status quo and to strive for a lifestyle of outspoken righteousness. In the next twelve weeks, we are going to unlock the simplicity of the Bible's teaching on creating a lifestyle of walking, breathing, living, organic evangelism. I hope you'll follow along with this series, that you'll be enriched and uplifted, and that the world beneath us will begin to move ever so slightly more, shifting into a well-watered garden of nourished, ripe, fully-grown seeds, planted, watered, and harvested by the workers of God.