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By Grant Everly
Recently I’ve found myself quite convicted in regard to my outlook on evangelism. Sharing my faith has always been a very essential part of my walk, and I’ve always loved having the opportunity to share with others what I’ve found in Christ. However, recently God has renewed my passion for sharing my faith, and I’ve also found Him refreshing my outlook on the entire matter.
Many times when we think of sharing Christ with others we limit the matter to just “fixing” those around us. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll focus on the overwhelming love of Christ, but often it stops at a very removed “let’s fix you” place.
A few days ago I was reading in Matthew, specifically Matthew 9. Verse 36 says:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. “
On the surface, this verse is seemingly plain and insignificant, but there are two essential parts to this verse that I’m convinced are of utmost importance when it comes to our outlook on evangelism. The first part is one word: Compassion. Often I find myself lacking in this. It’s not like I’m intentionally lacking in compassion; it’s just that sometimes I get so caught up in what I need to say or do while sharing with someone that I forget just how much God cares about the person I’m talking to and how much He desires to know them. It shouldn’t be this way, though. In fact, I’d argue compassion may be the most powerful and essential component, aside from obviously being motivated by and in touch with the Holy Spirit, when it comes to sharing Christ.
We have such an amazing thing in Jesus, and this is pointed out, albeit in a rather indirect way, in the second part of the verse.
The second part of Matthew 9:36 explains that we are all sheep who desperately need a shepherd. Obviously the verse is referring to the compassion Jesus had, but I believe a huge part of us truly being able to exercise the greatest compassion we can is to place ourselves where we belong in the metaphor. We are sheep. Christ is the shepherd. We sheep happen to be outrageously stupid sometimes; but something that is so cool is that although we can be pretty dumb, we get to have an amazing relationship with the Shepherd. How does this not evoke great amounts of compassion in us?
Think about it. All of us humans are sheep, wandering around, desperately struggling to find the shepherd. You and I, however, happen to know the Shepherd, and the startlingly twisted reality is that we often just sit by while we watch the other sheep aimlessly look for Him. We sit in the Shepherd’s arms, unmoved, while the rest of the sheep around us are struggling greatly.
Why do we do this?
The world around us is reeling with hurt and we happen to know the remedy, yet we don’t share it. What kind of cruddy people are we? In the very moment when we should be overcome with compassion for the sheep who are desperately seeking a Shepherd, we sit by idly as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on.
A few weeks ago I was at an evangelism training and the speaker put a spin on Christ that I hadn’t quite heard before, but found to be quite powerful. He was talking about how Christ, amongst other things, came to bring peace. He explained that the Hebrew word for peace, shalom, conveys the idea of wholeness. Christ came to bring wholeness. Our world is so broken, but Christ came to make it whole.
In relating this back to us sheep, we all are in great need of wholeness, and as Christians, you and I know where to find it. Those around us are seeking it wherever they can find it, and this fact should make us overwhelmed with compassion. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to simply sit back, and reflect upon the people around us. That coworker of yours who is overwhelmed by the trials of this life, they’re lost and seeking. That family member of yours who is hurting deeply, they’re lost and seeking. That friend of yours looking for wholeness in all the wrong places, they’re lost and seeking, and you happen to know exactly where to point them.
Let that sink in. Allow yourself to be overcome by compassion for those lost and searching, and go forth to share with them that wholeness you’ve found. We can’t afford to be idle in this; the repercussions are too grave. So go, overwhelmed by compassion, and share with your fellow sheep about our amazing Shepherd.
Grant Everly is a junior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.