If I had a dollar for every time I asked someone for prayer and I forget to pray for them I could be a rich man. If I had a dollar for every time I realized I missed a chance to share the Gospel I could probably pay off the national debt. If I were a rich man it would not be because I had the dollar from each time I missed an opportunity; it would be because I was not missing opportunities. Yet, because I am flesh and a fallen man I do not always see things perfect. Only, hindsight can be 20/20.
By drawing closer to God the vision improves as vision comes from God. And vision is important throughout or Christian walk. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV). This vision is not limited to the person who has accepted Christ, but to the evangelist as well. For if the evangelist had no vision opportunities will be missed, some people not reached, and people will perish without every hearing the Good News. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “[Jesus] gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8, NASB). Wheeler and Leach ask, “What would life be like for you if you used your assets (gifts) to serve others in your neighborhood, in your community, in your sphere of influence?”
While we may have the best of intentions, too many times our spiritual eyes are not open to the needs of others around us. We miss opportunities only to later realize we had a chance and missed it. Many times that door may not be opened for us again with that individual person. We need to open our spiritual eyes in all situations and be prepared not only to see the need that is presented, but be prepared to take the opportunity. “When we share the gospel with people, we are not calling them to a heavenly good buddy they can be folksy with. We are not simply calling them to a Cosmic Psychologist who can give them personal wholeness and heightened self-esteem. We are calling the to a Redeemer, who alone can save them from their sins.” The first command from the risen Lord was to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19, ESV). Acts 1:8 tells us that “[WE] will be [HIS] witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (ESV). It is hard to get to the ends of the earth without first going through our own backyards. We then should be, as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) making his appeal to everyone everywhere.
Evangelism starts in our homes. For many families the time spent with God and doing God’s work is relegated to Sunday mornings and maybe an occasional Sunday and Wednesday night. To those known as the Chreasters their time is relegated to two times a year: Christmas and Easter. For these people the total obligation to God is in attending church, not always on a regular basis. Pipes and Lee have another opinion, “Healthy families pass the baton of faith in Christ on to the next generation. It is not the church’s sole responsibility– or anyone else’s– to win your children to Christ and mentor them spiritually; it is yours.” Yet, as Abbot Christopher Jamison writes, “People speak and act as if being busy is a force beyond their control…we are now stuck with a way of life that is a breathless rush. ‘People don’t have time like they used to.’” When time gets tight it seems it is most of the time God’s time that gets cut.
Proverbs tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV). While the age of accountability may be different per child raising a child in the ways of the Lord should start at birth. Pipes and Lee write, “John 20:21 (NIV), the fourth Great Commission passage, far less quoted than others, reads, ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” As parents the discipleship of children starts at home. Rusaw and Swanson add, “Though we often speak of life and all it compromises as gifts from God, they are unique ‘gifts’ in that, technically, they still belong to him. When those gifts are used in the home they serve to train up a child in the way of the Lord. Tobit instructed Tobias to “Watch yourself, my son, in everything you do, and be disciplined in all your conduct” (Tobit 4:4). The real aim at serving though comes in verse 16, “Give of your bread to the hungry, and of your clothing to the naked. Give all your surplus to charity, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it” (Tobit 4:16). The training of our children starts in our own personal Jerusalem: Our homes.
Judea and Samaria
The real test of our evangelism comes when we step out of our Jerusalem and get into the world. Dorothy Gail, in the end of the old Wizard of Oz movie realized that if she ever went searching again it would be no farther than her own backyard. The truth is you cannot get to the ends of the earth without first going through your own yard, neighborhood, and city.
The old evangelism used to be knocking on someone’s door and asking, “If you died right now do you know where you would go?” In its most basic form this is nothing but a tactic to scare people into accepting Christ. But, does scare tactics make genuine converts? The crusades seemed to prove that scare tactics do not work. Knocking on the doors of people’s hearts instead of their houses seems to be a much more workable plan. Many people we meet in an evangelistic situation have never heard of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. The only gospel they have come in contact with is the gospel they see us live.
Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “Always preach the Gospel; if necessary use words.” Basically, our lives should be open testaments to Jesus Christ. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:20, “[We] have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer [we] who live, but Christ who lives in [us]. And the life [we] now live in the flesh [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us] (ESV). We knock on the doors of people’s hearts when we live our lives according to scripture fulfilling the great commission. Yet, the flaw in Francis’ quote is that as well as living the gospel out in our lives, there is always a necessity to use words: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12, KJV). At some point we have to use words in order that people know the reason we do what we do.
As Christians, people may see us going into church on any given Sunday morning and assume one thing or another about our faith. But it is when we are outside of the church that we enter the mission field. What type of witness do we give for Christ on the golf course, way back in the express lane at Wal-Mart when someone in front of us has more than the required 20 items, or when UNC loses to Duke? How does our life reflect Christ, and open doors to hearts, when we have a neighbor in need, and we have the resources to meet the need, yet we do not meet the need? “Doing good, even in the name of Jesus, will bring few to Christ when others see no inward transformation in those reaching out to them.” We are Christians, charged with a great commission, 24 hours a day and it is in our daily lives that we witness most for Christ. In commenting on Matthew 25:40, Pipes and Lee write, “In the world around you who did you see in need? What was the need? Did you attempt to meet it? If so you did it for Me. If not, you failed me.” But, even when we meet needs there comes a time when we have let it be known in whose name we serve.
Through serving others (Matthew 25:30-40), we can play our part in the great commission (Matthew 28:19). But, it has to always be remembered in whose name we serve, and that name has to be preached with words in order for anyone to be saved. Because of our faith we are saved and “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV).
The Ends of the Earth
Many of us will never be able to be long term missionaries in foreign lands. For that matter, most of us will never be able to take a short term mission trip. But, that does not mean we cannot take the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. “Conversely, the most pious, moral believers who refuse to help the needy of the world will find their attempts to convince others of Jesus’ love often falling on deaf ear.”
Jesus tells an interesting story about meeting needs in Luke 10. The story of the Good Samaritan has become one of Jesus’ better known stories. While the man who has been beaten and left for dead is past by a few different people (the very people one would have thought would have given help), help came from the least likely of sources: A man from a people group that were enemies with the Jews. The Samaritan immediately tended to the Jew’s pressing needs. Then, he took the man to an inn and put him up. He told the innkeeper to keep the man there until well and if any more charges were incurred he would pay them when he (the Samaritan) returned to the area. For us going to the end of the earth there is practical advice for all missions, but our world missions most of all.
For those who make overseas mission trips Jesus shows us how to meet the needs of those we encounter. But, for those who cannot make an overseas mission trip (either long or short term) Jesus shows how we can be part of that mission: Through our monetary support. Rusaw and Swanson write, “It takes money to meet the needs in your community or your neighborhood. You should give, but never at the expense of involvement.” While we are involved in evangelism in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and counties, we can still, through the giving of money, food, and many other items be involved in foreign missions by donations of necessities with those in lands which our feet will never touch. We have to always remembered that there are needs to be meet at all times not just during natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The poor of the world should be on our minds even at times when they are not on the minds of the rest of the world. “Being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having than having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.” We can transform lives in other lands and never step foot in the other lands by supporting the evangelistic efforts of others.
Jesus gave us a Great Commission in Matthew 28 to god and Make disciples. In Acts 1 he told where we were to begin in the making of disciples. It starts in the home and spreads to the uttermost parts of the world, and we are to be a part of it. When we come together to be a family for God we begin our evangelistic journey. When children arrive they are to be brought up in the ways of the Lord; this is our first attempt at evangelism and discipleship. As our children age they begin to live a life conforming to the image of His Son as we daily renew our minds. From the home (our own personal Jerusalem) our evangelistic efforts spread out to Judea and Samaria: our neighborhoods and cities. We make inroads to the lost by the way we act around them and by the way we serve them. We go to the ends of the earth in the form of mission trips as well as our support of those who are on the ground in other lands for missions. Greer and Smith appropriately ask, “Doesn’t it seem like the church should be focused on achievable goals– like saving souls– rather than a utopian social dream?”
Jesus said, “For you always have the poor with you” (Mark 14:7). We will never stamp out poverty, but we can help bring in poverty of spirit “for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Psalm 69:32-33:
The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
The Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.
When we serve the poor, both at home and abroad, in the name of Jesus the poor will be glad. We are after all, to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In other words, Urbis Et Orbi.
Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!
Minister, Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ
North Carolina, USA
 Richard Leach and David A. Wheeler, Ministering To Others (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2009), 6.
 Terry A. Bowland, Make Disciples: Reaching the Postmodern World for Christ (Joplin: College Press, 2005), 60.
 My term for those who only make it to church on Christmas and Easter. I have been unable to track down an originating source for the word; I did not make the word up. I am not trying to pass it off as mine.
 Dr. Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy (United States: Jerry F. Pipes, 2005), 43.
 Abbot Christopher Jamison, Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps For Everyday Life (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2006), 13.
 Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson, Living A Life On Loan (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 2006), 12.
 Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kammell, James (Grand Rrapids: Zondervan, 2008), 100.
 Blomberg and Kammell, 100.
 Rusaw and Swanson, 134.
 Richard Stearns, The Hole In Our Gospel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 2.
 Peter Greer and Phil Smith, The Poor Will Be Glad (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 32.