A sobering thought came over me not long ago. I was thinking about how much activity a local church does for itself. I’m not against ministries that build up the body of Christ, but in comparison to the time spent in actually touching those who are outside of the faith, we might need to reconsider. That also includes the time that we spend praying for ourselves, our needs, and our own personal and corporate problems.
The Bible says, “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:35-38).
This passage is on the heels of some intense personal ministry by Jesus (see verses 18-33). He’s taught, touched, healed, and cast out a demon, but now He’s going to enlist His followers into the ministry; it’s a call to outreach and evangelism. Let me simplify evangelism by identifying four aspects from this passage. First, evangelism is going. Jesus was going through (periago) all the cities and villages. This phrase indicates that evangelism is more of a lifestyle than a program. It starts with you and me walking through crowds; it’s rubbing shoulders with humanity in some very practical ways. Evangelism is when you go shopping or to the grocery store. It occurs when you go to Starbucks to get a coffee or to a restaurant for a meal. Evangelism starts with you realizing that each and every day, when you’re amidst people, you carry the hope of Christ within you that can alter the eternal trajectory of everyone you’re near (see Colossians 1:27).
Second, evangelism is seeing. To see (eidon) in this context means to experience something deep on the inside, so when Jesus saw the people He was moved with compassion for them. He was touched at the deepest level of His being because He observed that they were beat down, distressed, and lost. The people that Jesus saw were not an interruption to His busy schedule but the object of affection to pour out the Father’s love. Throughout Jesus’ ministry there was always a contrast between what He saw and what those around Him were able to see. In Matthew 8:28-34, Jesus saw two guys who needed deliverance, but the town’s people saw a herd of pigs that had just perished. In Matthew 9:9-13, Jesus saw a tax collector becoming His follower but the Pharisees saw only a group of sinners. What do you see when you look upon people? Are you moved with compassion for them or do you merely make judgements based on outward appearances?
Third, evangelism is praying. Jesus said to beseech (deomai) the Lord of the harvest. This word means to cry out with great passion. One expositor said it means to bind your life to a request so as to never let go of what you’re crying out for until there’s an answer. Think about it: We are praying to the Lord of the harvest to cast out workers into the field. Our hearts are to be so moved by the needs of those who are lost that we never cease praying until workers are dispatched into that particular area. I can tell you by experience that God either sends workers for the need or He will launch you.
Fourth, evangelism is ministering. Jesus called His band of followers and gave them authority over unclean spirits, diseases, and sicknesses (Matthew 10:1). Then He sent them out into the field to preach, heal, and deliver people (Matthew 10:7-8). Truly, Jesus has commissioned and empowered all of us to minister. We not only have the God-given authority to evangelize, but Jesus has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to pull it off (Acts 1:8). Minister with the boldness of the Spirit and when you pour your life into lost people, believe that extraordinary things will occur.
You and I have been called to evangelize. The harvest is waiting for workers and Jesus has equipped every one of us. Let’s open our eyes, start crying out, get out into the market place and start ministering with the anointing that Jesus has given you.
Jesus, here we are. Thank you for the call and empowerment to do what you’ve commissioned us to do, amen.