Everybody loves a good love story. Come on, guys, admit it. You don’t REALLY mind it when your girl drags you to a chick flick. There’s just something about seeing love blossom out of unexpected places.
We watched Tangled last night. Disney movies are especially good at telling unexpected love stories. The hostage princess falls in love with the fugitive thief. The beautiful peasant girl falls in love with the hideous beast. The Arabian princess falls in love with the “street rat.”
We love to hear a good love story.
Let’s think about this in relation to evangelism. To “evangelize” literally means “to tell the good news.” Yet so often we think we have to have all these intricate doctrinal issues all ironed out before we can even mention the name of Jesus. We don’t know enough about who God is, how Jesus is still living, or what the Holy Spirit does. We don’t know the plan of salvation or all the arguments for or against predestination. We feel overwhelmed because we don’t know enough.
But what really is the “good news?”
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (HCSB)
God loves me. He gave his only son to die in my place. And since I believe in him, I can now live with him for the rest of eternity.
One of Paul’s most effective tools in winning converts and making disciples was his own story. Time and time again he shares his own story with people.
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.
15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NLT)
Paul knew that his own story was more effective at showing God’s love and mercy than any sort of systematic theology could come close to capturing. Christ came to save sinners of whom he was the worst. He used his story to show that if God could have mercy on a guy like him, if God could completely transform a sinner like him, then God could save anybody.
One of my favorite stories from the life of Jesus is in John 9. Jesus heals a blind beggar by making mud, rubbing it on his eyes, and telling the man to go wash the mud away. And all this was done on the Sabbath. The Pharisees flipped out because “work” was done on the day of rest. They bring the guy in for questioning, and he tells them straight up everything that happened. The Pharisees wanted to turn it into a technical debate with the man saying that Jesus could not have been from God because he violated the Sabbath.
This blind beggar was way out of his league theologically and intellectually, but his testimony is one of the most powerful in all of Scripture.
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” John 9:25 (NLT)
Evangelism is not about having all the answers. Sometimes it may seem that there are more questions than can be answered. We don’t have to know everything. But one thing we do have to know is our own story.
Evangelism is sharing the good news. What’s the good news of your story?