by Matt Brown
For those of us who are passionate about evangelism and discipleship, if we’re not careful, we can be caught in a sticky trap. We can subtly begin to focus more and more on mission, and less and less on what matters most: God.
A few years ago my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the land of my ancestors…the beautiful land of Italy.
I sensed right away I was home as I sipped the espresso and tasted the bufalina cheese and roma tomatoe, flame-kissed pizza with a hint of basil. I couldn’t get enough. Somewhere in another life, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been a middle-aged barista in Italy. It is a legitimate job there – and the experience and the burst of flavors is quite something to write home about.
Italy, if it is known for anything, it likely most known for it’s art. It’s rich history of some of the most world-famous artists and works of art is one of the primary reasons that people flock there from all over the world.
Interestingly, the heritage is rich with artists tied to the funding of the Church. The Church over the millennia commissioned works of art and artists to bring scripture to life.
The true artist knows that his tools: his paintbrush, his palette, his easel, and his paint are simply that – tools to create the captivating work of art that tells the Story. He doesn’t glory in his tools. His tools are long forgotten by the masses, but the work of art remains.
In a similar way, evangelism is simply a tool working towards the glory of God in the gospel.
Evangelism and mission won’t remain in heaven. But worship will. This is why John Piper says, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” With the vision of an artist, Piper is pointing us past the tools, and to the glory in the Story of God. Therein is the only worthy focus.
Don’t be captivated by evangelism. Be captivated by the gospel.
Don’t get jazzed about mission. Don’t dream solely for activism, justice, or global revival. Stay captivated by God’s glory.
God’s glory is the only motivation and fuel that lasts, and never burns out. Only God’s glory will sustain us through the trials of this life, and the culture that rages against the truth of God and the people of God who tell the truth.
Like Mary at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42), we need to keep our primary aim on becoming so satisfied and saturated in the beauty of the gospel, and in Christ throughout all of scripture, that we speak from hearts full of God’s glory.
As a freshman in Bible college, and older student who had become a mentor to me shared, “We need to worry less about being so dedicated to the Lord, and simply become fascinated again.” As we drove on a routine trip over to the local, downtown Minneapolis gas station “Bobby and Steves,” this student preached the gospel to me again, and declared the heights of the astonishing love of God for His children. The sun was setting beautifully over the horizon, and I couldn’t help but begin to cry.
That vision of the beauty, and majesty, and glory, and love of God for me has sustained me. It is what caused me to press in to prayer and scripture like I had never done before. It drew me to know my God more. And in knowing God more, I longed for others to know Him.
The best kind of evangelism is a burning, blazing heart for the glory of God.
When we are satisfied in God, we will share out of our overflow of love and joy in the gospel. No one will have to push us to share Christ. We will simply exude Christ in our love and in our words, because we have been with Him. We have seen Him. We will never be the same.
David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” (Psalm 51:12-13)
When we are captivated by God, we will have joy in the gospel, and will naturally help other sinners turn back to being captivated by Him.
Isaiah 40:31 reminds us, “They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
The secret to strength in gospel work is in waiting on God so much that we become captivated by His beauty again.
Captivated as we read His word.
Captivated as His presence invades our hearts, and the things of this world grow strangely dim.
When there is waiting on God, there is renewing by God, because our vision of Him changes everything.
Matt Brown (@evangelistmatt) is an evangelist, author of Awakening (2015, Leafwood Publishers), and founder of Think Eternity. He and his wife, Michelle, are impacting thousands of people with the gospel each year through live events and online. They also minister to a quarter million followers on social media daily.