How and why you should believe in Jesus. And telling others about Him.

Not everyone in ministry finds evangelism to be an integral part of what they're doing. However it very much is for me. Often times it's less about evangelism for the sake of my personal ministry as it is I need to take those I'm leading along with me to demonstrate evangelism. Also I love evangelism because it challenges you to really think through what you believe about your faith as you're doing it. By this I mean, before you "sell" what you believe you find yourself asking "do I really believe this person needs this?" because if they don't then you can avoid deep conversation and sometimes that's just easier. If you're not getting paid to sell shoes then you have to believe they really are wonderful to be telling your friends about them. So you ask yourself before you make the pitch, do I really care about talking about this? Is this really important to me?

Anyhow. Let me dive right in. Assume you're sitting in a chair across from me. I generally begin my evangelism with a question about your life. What you live for. Do you have hope? Do you care to have hope? What do you hope in?

It's actually surprising how few people can answer this. A good friend of mine once told me when he was visiting his family over a vacation his grandfather pulled him aside and asked him "Do you know the meaning of life?" Now my friend was only 17 at the time and just about to test into college. His answer was "No." Which isn't surprising, especially for a 17 year old.

So his grandfather asked, "Well, then will you continue to live?"

"Of course."

"What about when you're 30, if you still don't know the meaning of life will you keep living?"

"Well, you can't just stop living because you don't know the meaning of life. What should I do? Kill myself?"

"What about when you're 50? 80?"

"Yes, I'll keep living even if I don't know the meaning of life."

Then his Gandfather told him, "Well if you're 80 and you've lived your whole life without knowing what it's for, you've wasted your life."

I like to tell people this story and ask them if they agree with the grandfather's thoughts.

Often in discussing hope and satisfaction I tell people that I never knew what true satisfaction was until I was around 20. I genuinely believe apart from Christ there is no way to find true satisfaction. I believe that because I was even a Christian for a long time before I found satisfaction in life. It wasn't until I understood the reality of who God is that I found joy and satisfaction.

I believe in an all powerful Creator God. If a Creator God exists, and he created us, then it makes sense that He would understand us even better than we understand ourselves. After all He designed us. If He designed us then He knows what it takes for us to be happy. Often times I believe we're like children who think when we're hungry that we need candy. We can fill up on candy, but eventually if all we eat is candy we will get sick and wither away. In the same way we can grope around in the dark for what we think will satisfy us but it's only in listening to our designer that we will know how to truly live. How to truly find satisfaction.

I like to tell people the story of the gospel beginning with creation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and then everything in them. God created EVERYTHING. Originally what God created was good. Perfect even. But you can look at the world around you and see that this world isn't perfect. Is your life perfect? Mine isn't. People lie, the car I drive is breaking down, sometimes I get food poisoning. My child was born with her hips too lose in her socket for her to be able to ever be able to walk unless a doctor intervenes and treats it. That's not perfect.

So why isn't it perfect now? Well when God originally created the earth he told man basically, "You can do absolutely anything you want. Nothing is wrong. Except you must not eat from this one tree." But man was prideful and wanted to be like God, so eventually he ignored God and ate from that tree. When he did he sinned.

See this creator God is perfect and he demands perfection from His creation. So now that man had sinned he wasn't perfect anymore was he? I'm not perfect. I've lied. I've cheated. I've hurt people. But God demands that man be perfect. Because man wasn't perfect anymore his relationship with God was broken. And everything in the world was broken. Because of man's decision we live in an imperfect, sometimes miserable, painful world. There is still good here because God's creation was good, but everything that was perfect is now broken, imperfect. This was never God's intention, but because of man's decision that's the world we live in.

Now like I said God is perfect and demands perfection. So God made a way for man to be perfect even though he is not so. You've probably heard the term scapegoat. A scapegoat is someone that's blamed for something they did not do to take the blame away from the person who did. This was God's method of making man perfect. He told the Jews they could take a lamb every year and slaughter it. In order to cleanse us God required blood. And this lamb brought forth blood when it was killed. The Lord said basically, "Even though you are not perfect, yet if you sacrifice this lamb I will choose to take your sin and put it on this lamb. Then when you kill the lamb the sin will die with it." While I'm sure this isn't exactly how it works, it's the general idea. God is saying, "Even though you aren't perfect, yet through this method I can choose to regard you as perfect." And therefore man was able to enter back into a relationship with God. Albeit it was still an imperfect relationship. After all, the day after the lamb was killed people would go out and sin again.

Now God loves man. And God knew this method couldn't last. People had to kill a lamb every year, and then the next day their hands were dirty with sin again. So God made a perfect lamb. Christians believe that Jesus came to earth as God's son. And because he was God's son he was 100% God, but also 100% man. He then lived a life without sin. We cannot live a life without sin because we're 100% man and 0% God. But since Jesus was man AND God he was able to live a perfect life. Then when he was killed on the cross God said he will regard Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice. The ultimate lamb. Because he was perfect his ability to take away sin was infinitely greater than that of a normal lamb.

God made it easy. He said if you choose to believe in His son Jesus he will take your sin and put it on Jesus. Jesus' death then took away our sin, and will continue to take away our sin. When we accept Jesus, every sin we've ever committed is forgiven. And any sin we do today or tomorrow is also forgiven. Jesus' death was sufficient to cover all of it.

But Jesus didn't just die. He also rose again three days later. He conquered death. And when we accept Jesus as our savior we will live again even after we die just like Jesus. We believe our rebirth will be into a heaven where there will again be no pain. No possibility of sin or hurt or pain or brokenness. When we believe in Jesus, God chooses to look at us, and even though we are sinful He looks at Jesus instead of us, and pardons us. He chooses to regard us as perfect even though we are not perfect. Therefore we can enter into a relationship with Him even now. This relationship wont be perfect until after we die and are reborn into a new heaven and new earth, but it is a relationship we are incapable of at all without Jesus.

When we know God, we can finally begin to understand Him and His plan for our lives. In a relationship with our Creator we can finally know how He intended for us to live. What will truly bring us joy, satisfaction, etc...

Now that we've been forgiven it also seems like we can do anything we desire. We can sin as much as we want and it's forgiven. Technically this is true. But the Christian doesn't do good things because he's fearful of bad consequences for his sin (he won't be blamed by God for his sin, as it's forgiven), instead the Christian does good because God told us to love as we've been loved. Jesus loved us so much that he took away all our sin. Therefore we love others, and do good because we were loved first. Our sins are forgiven so there is no reason to live in fear of the consequences of the wrong we have done or will do.

The Bible tells us if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the grave then we're saved.

If you say, "Jesus I accept you as my Lord, and I believe that you raised Jesus from the grave," then you're saved, you're a Christian. It's that simple.

The next step is to find other believers that can help you better understand God. A church is a good place to start. But please understand God chooses to regard Christians as perfect. He forgives our sins. But Christians are still people, and they are far from perfect. Entering a church is entering a place where a lot of sin has been forgiven. But the people are still sinners.

So have patience with them/us!