Last week for class (I know, it was a big week of learning!) we were discussing evangelism. In one of our books, “The Art of Personal Evangelism” by William McRaney, he said “dealing with lost people will cause us to get our hands dirty and sweaty just like tending to yard work. Part of evangelism is to clear up the misconceptions and misperceptions people have about the gospel. Dealing with people and evangelism is often messy.” We were charged to react to the statement, and I thought it might be lucrative to close out my “testimony” section of this blog by showing how getting dirty (for others) and allowing Christ to do that with in us could be so incredibly beneficial and rewarding.
I really appreciated McRaney’s analogy of getting our hands dirty and sweaty work when it comes to evangelism. I just revamped my front yard here on the military post (by myself.) Five large green trashcans of old yucky mulch and 39 bags of new mulch later, I understood the dirty sweaty work. I believe that anytime you are working with the heart of people, it is going to be dirty, especially when it involves something as delicate and personal as sharing the gospel. I am afraid some of the misconceptions include viewing evangelists/Christians as yard supply salespeople—that everything is a scam and over priced. The opposite is quite true. We need to be the folks that come by and clean up the garden of someone else, dirt under our fingernails, sweat dripping down our noses free of charge. Jesus has already paid that price for us. He was covered in sweat, dirt, blood and spit—so what is a little dirty sweat for us to endure?
As contemporary evangelists, we must sharpen our “tools” as our passion for Christ, knowledge of his word and a pure heart and head into those front and backyard jungles of non-believers. Then, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, can take our metaphorical weed eaters, hedge clippers, shovels and rakes and start “cleaning.” Just as it says in the “Share Jesus without Fear” text, it depends on how many positive seeds have been planted for the gospel that will determine the time and effort involved in “cleaning up” the misconceptions and sharing the Good News. It is going to be a messy job. Just as it says in the Bible, we can help bear the burdens of others, and as the salty, light-driven gardeners, we might be called to dig in and clear out some of the rotten, painful, weedy, dark place so that Jesus can come into their hearts.
Our salvation and recovery testimonies not only help us to relate to those whose garden is still a little overgrown and untended, but it brings into the light our own past weeds in our life and how the power of Jesus got to work via other evangelists who witnessed to us in order to clean up our hearts. As I was writing my recovery testimony yesterday, I felt like Jesus didn’t just use a rake, shovel and a couple bags of mulch. By using my past church in Missouri and some extremely difficult life circumstances, he came into my heart/life, utilizing a huge weed whacker, about 10 bottles of Round up pesticide and a bulldozer to completely re-landscape/overhaul my heart.