2 Corinthians 4.1-6
There are many Christians who wince at the word evangelism and feel awkward. This is often because past experiences have been difficult. There are frequently strong emotions associated with the term. The proclaiming of the gospel in whatever form is opposed by the dominant cultural view in many countries including much of the West. This should not surprise us as Paul states, ‘the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ V4 What is role of the Christian? It is to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. v5 For Paul this took many forms. At times he addressed large crowds, he met with women by a river during a time of prayer and talked with them. He visited people’s homes, he addressed small gatherings in homes, he spoke in court and he spoke to his jailers in prison. There is no one model and undoubtedly if ministering today he would use whatever modern means he could to proclaim Jesus. What the NIV translates, ‘preach’ the ESV translates ‘proclaim’ but the meaning is to herald. That is to go before and announce or introduce and to tell of the good things of Jesus.
Paul in this passage strongly qualifies his role in preaching the gospel with his attitude and approach as he proclaims. There is no room for self-promotion, he is not about creating a personal following. He terms himself a servant or slave for Jesus’ sake. v5 Underlying this is his awareness that the only difference between a Christian and an un-believer is that God in his mercy has opened the Christian’s blind eyes. It is the Spirit of God who does that not the preacher. The Christian then is to continue proclaiming Jesus and praying that God will open blind eyes by shining the light of the gospel into the hearts of unbelievers. v6
There are three basic heart attitudes the Christian should adopt when sharing the good news of Jesus.
Integrity – Open honesty that is genuine and sincere. ‘We have renounced disgraceful, underhand ways. We refuse to practise cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but in the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.’ v2
Faithful adherence – As the NIV translates we do not “distort” the word of God. This means we do not avoid the aspects that might be more uncomfortable to speak about. This includes sin, the need for repentance and the judgement of God. All of which Jesus was very clear about in his teaching. We need to trust the Holy Spirit to attract people to Christ.
Humility – We are not to manipulate people or play on people’s vulnerabilities. It is Jesus we proclaim and we want people to make their own mind up as to whether to follow Jesus becoming convinced of the truth and led by the Holy Spirit.
(The content of this reflection draws on the Christianity Explored Leaders Handbook)
When we share the good news of Jesus do we pray that we will have the right attitude ourselves in how we relate to others?
Do we remain honest and humbly brave to speak about the whole gospel as the Spirit causes situations to arise?
Lord, I need you – Matt Maher