Imagine being there, on a mountain near Galilee, as the disciples worshiped Jesus after His resurrection. There He is, in His resurrected flesh, risen from the dead just as He has said. So why would some of them still harbor doubt in their hearts and minds? That is a question never answered in the gospels. Jesus simply seems to move right past the issue to give them the great commission, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18–20) He plows straight through their struggles, right to the issue at hand. He has been given all authority and now, in the authority, says to them, go to every nation and make more disciples.
The Lord doesn’t see our doubts and fears as an obstacle to be overcome, but we often do. He says to go and we often just stay. It has been said courage is not the absence of fear, but that the task before us is more important than our fears and doubts. For many of us, to tell someone about the Gospel of Jesus Christ often feels like we need to muster up a lifetime of insane courage just for those few moments. Yet it does not need to be so difficult, because many of us are able to do good and right things for others naturally.
So how do you and I reach our neighbors with the gospel in an organic way? Take a deep breath and relax, it’s not as difficult as you may think. Neighbors are like family. We don’t want to offend them unnecessarily, because we have to live next to them. The same also applies to our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ: we should simply start by being rich in good works toward all men, but especially our neighbors. The Bible reveals that this is a legitimate means of evangelism. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Peter went on to say, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:15)
Sinners of any age, shape or size may, and often will disagree with what we believe, but seeing our good works makes them rethink their position. They may not believe what we believe when we meet them, but it will always make an impact when they see the reality of the love of God in our actions towards them. Every person we encounter in this life will take the time to read us as God’s living letter to humanity. So do our actions match up to our faith? A friendly wave, a gift for no reason, fresh-baked goods, etc., each of these can pave the way for evangelism through kindness and friendship. Offer to mow your neighbor’s lawn or help do some painting. Volunteer to pick up their mail and newspapers while they’re on vacation. Compliment them on their landscaping and ask for gardening tips. Invite them over for a barbecue or dessert. All the while, be praying for an opportunity and the courage to share the gospel, and when it arrives, go for it.
As you witness and share the Gospel, divorce yourself from the thought you are merely seeking “decisions for Christ.” What we should be seeking is to help develop a knowledge of sin which leads to repentance. This is the purpose of the Law, to bring the knowledge of sin. How can a man repent if he doesn’t know what sin is? If there is no repentance, there is no salvation. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) Peter again also wrote, “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Many don’t understand the salvation of a soul is not a resolution to change a way of life, but “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” The modern concept of success in evangelism is to relate how many people were “saved” (that is, how many prayed the “sinner’s prayer.”) This produces a “no decisions, no success” mentality. This shouldn’t be, because Christians who seek decisions in evangelism become discouraged after a time of witnessing if “no one came to the Lord.”
Jesus taught, “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:36–38) If you and I faithfully sow the seed, someone will reap. If you reap, it is because someone has sown in the past, but it is God who causes the seed to grow. If there is no godly sorrow leading to repentance, then you will end up with a stillbirth on your hands. Someone who simply went through the religious motions and there is nothing to rejoice about in that. We should measure our success by how faithfully we are sowing the seeds. In that way, we will avoid becoming discouraged as we seek to fulfill The Great Commission.