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Relational Evangelism

What gets you out of the chair?

By May 29, 2024No Comments


A love for others should motivate us to evangelize. 

A love for God is the ultimate motive for evangelism and discipleship.  


You finally make it home from a long day and are ready to settle in for a relaxing evening in your favorite chair. Looking out your window you notice your neighbor outside in their yard. This is the neighbor you have been praying about and asking God to give you an opportunity to share Christ with them. This is also the neighbor who is always talking about how hard their life is and who seems to just hate life in general. You think this would be a good time to go outside and engage them in conversation and try to strengthen our relationship. At the same time, you think, I don’t know if I can endure another complaint ridden rant about the world and everything in it. All I want is a bit of peace and quiet. Will you leave the comfort of your well-worn leather chair and go outside to engage your neighbor, or will you justify staying put and catching up on the news? What will get you out of the chair? Perhaps it will be guilt since you don’t want to deal with how you feel sitting there. Perhaps it will be bragging rights at the next prayer meeting for how you shared the gospel with your neighbor. Whatever it is that gets you out of the chair is what motivates you to engage in evangelism and discipleship. What should it be? 


People’s great need 

Love for my neighbor is a valid and compelling motivation for engaging in evangelism and discipleship. Jesus’ own heart was filled with compassion for people who were harassed and helpless like sheep without a Shepherd (Mt. 9:36). Out of love for them He healed them and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom to them. It is evident that the Lord’s love for others motivated Him to reach out to them. In addition, the apostle Paul speaks of being under obligation to preach the gospel to all people (Rom. 1:14). While this sounds like duty Paul later notes that we are to owe no one anything but love (Rom. 13:8) indicating this was an operating motivation for his own evangelism and discipleship. This motivation moved Paul to labor tirelessly for the sake of the gospel.  


Love of neighbor should motivate us to get out of the chair and spend the time in conversation with our friend. The trouble is we often fail to love those who are closest to us, let alone a neighbor who is difficult to love. We need God’s work of grace in our heart to love our neighbor as we should. Thankfully, God’s help is available through the work of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and He delights in working in us to show His amazing grace to us. But there is a greater motivation for getting out of the chair. 


God’s own glory 

The chief motive for evangelism is also the chief end of man – “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” A true child of God desires that God receive the glory that is rightfully His. When we engage in evangelism and discipleship, we give God glory in two ways. First, we are speaking of His amazing wisdom and complete justice in declaring sinners righteous through faith in Christ (Rom. 11:33). We are making known God’s great love and rich mercy to underserving sinners (Eph. 2:4-9). By proclaiming God’s magnificent character and mighty works to others we are honoring Him before others and giving God the glory He deserves. That means even if your friend doesn’t respond to the gospel by embracing Christ, God is still glorified through the proclamation of his Gospel. J.I. Packer said, “We glorify God by evangelizing, not only because evangelizing is an act of obedience, but also because in evangelism we tell the world what great things God has done for the salvation of sinners. God is glorified when His mighty works of grace are made known.”1 If motivated by the glory of God, we engage in evangelism and discipleship because we delight to make Him known regardless of the response. 


Second, when people respond to the gospel in faith and are born again, it gives God glory. God’s own motives for saving sinners is His own glory. In Ephesians 2:7 we read that God saves people so that they will display “the immeasurable riches of His grace.” Those whom God redeems through the gospel display God’s amazing grace through His redemptive and transformative work. When people embrace the gospel and begin to live for Christ instead of themselves it brings praise to God and gives Him glory. Our part in evangelism is to share the good news and watch God work. A modern hymn puts it well by stating we are to “gather from every place, trophies of sovereign grace.”2 Do you desire that God be glorified? Are you motivated by a zeal for Gods’ glory? Evangelism fulfills this desire. John Piper stated this motivation well with regard to missions when he wrote, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.”3 We could substitute the word evangelism for missions because whether it be taking the gospel across the lands or across the street God’s glory (worship) is ultimate.   


So, what gets you out of your chair to go speak with your neighbor? We should be motivated by our love for our neighbor but ultimately, it is our love for God and His glory that should move us to make the trek across the street and ask our neighbor, “How are you doing?” 


1 Packer, J.I., Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, IVP.  

2 Anderson, Chris, For the Sake of His Name 

3 Piper, John, Let the Nations be Glad, Baker 


Matt Fagan is the Lead Pastor at Heritage Baptist Church of Windham, New Hampshire and serves as an Exchange Trainer. Contact Matt about leading an Exchange Training Event or to discuss this article at [email protected]

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