Let me tell you why I don’t do evangelism.
I used to think it was because I was afraid of what people would think. But I don’t think it’s that. I don’t generally worry what people think of me. The people on my street already think I’m weird! It’s not because I can’t be bothered. I’m happy to work hard for Christ in other ways. It’s not because I don’t know what to say. I have a strong conviction that the Holy Spirit can speak through me – however fumbling my words.
No, the reason I don’t tell my neighbours about Jesus is this: I think it’ll be a waste of time. I assume people won’t be interested. It’ll just be a bit embarrassing for both of us – and then we’ll quickly change the subject.
In the opening verses of Titus Paul describes what drives his ministry. He’s wanting to motivate the next generation. And what we discover is that one of the things that fires Paul’s passion for evangelism is the sovereignty of God.
‘Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness – a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour.’ (Titus 1:1-3)
I assume that telling people about Jesus will be a waste of time. If I invite my neighbour to an event they will almost certainly say No. If I share the gospel with someone at a party then they will probably edge away from me. And so I don’t bother.
But this is how Paul saw his life. His life was ‘for the faith of God’s elect’. God has done the choosing so God will do the convincing. God will save his elect. All Paul had to do was find the elect. And he did that my preaching the gospel to everyone.
In my shed I have a tray of seeds. Last year I noticed that a number of packets were past their use-by-date. I did not even know seeds had a use-by-date! So I stood there in my shed with these seeds in the palm of my hand. They all look dead. But perhaps some of them still have the potential for life. Perhaps some of them might still grow into healthy vegetables. There is only one way to find out. So I planted them and watered them. And indeed I did have some good lettuces and radishes.
It is the same with the people of your neighbourhood. They look dead to God because they are dead to God. But some of them are God’s elect. If you water them, as it were, by preaching the gospel then God will use that to bring them new life. You can’t tell which are God’s elect. But you can preach the gospel, confident that God has many people in your city or county.