This weekend sour 12 step group celebrated completing step 4: inventory. For those who've never gone through a 12-step program, step 4 is the hardest of all the 12 steps and completing it deserves a celebration. As we talked over the last few months, our leader told us about how evangelism happens naturally as a part of Celebrate Recovery. She's had so many people who want to come and meet Jesus too when they find out there's a way out of their issues and addictions.
One of the girls, not quite understanding, asked to come help with the evangelism, as if it were a program. It didn't take long for her to see that she already is. God has done great things in her life and she is not at all shy about telling others. I've noticed that a lot in CR. These are real people with real hurts. They need Jesus every day just to get through the day--sometimes just to get through each moment. Because His rescue is constant and critical in their lives, they are not at all shy about telling anyone that He is their life-line. They are walk in desperation for Him and are more than eager to share the bread of life they have found with other starving people.
The truth is that we all desperately need Jesus every moment, but we don't all know it. We were created to be like Him for the purpose of knowing and loving him. He is our very purpose for existing, in the most literal sense. Unfortunately, most of the "normal" world has figured out how to muddle through without Him--or worse, how to thrive on their own. Sometimes they might experience an existential longing or post-modern ennui, but the truth is, as far as they know, their functioning doesn't depend on anyone other than themselves. Above all men, the self-satisfied are cursed. They enjoy the benefits a good God provides in the world they live but can't or won't recognize His hand in it. Unless they recognize their need, they will choose themselves over God and He will let them have their disasterous choice.
As we talked yesterday, I realized that this is why evangelism "programs" are almost always doomed from the start. I've seen churches where the pastor begs, pleads and guilts people to come to the evangelism program every week. They try to teach people who know no need of their own to tell other self-satisfied people why they need Him too. Within most evangelism programs, there are always a few highly lauded salesmen who can sell ice-cream to Eskimos, and they come back each week with a new convert, but in the end they are just that--salesmen. They go to win souls, as if it were their duty to God to meet their sales-quota for the week. They have not been transformed so they have no real way to show their new "convert" what that transformation looks like. They tell the truth when they say that Jesus is the answer--but they haven't needed to ask any questions for themselves yet so they're not really sure what He's the answer to.
I have seen God rescue these women's lives. I've seen Him daily rescue my life. I want so much for others to know Him, but I realize now that unless He shows them how much they desperately need Him, there's no place to start. On the other hand, one transformed life, or even one faithful life that is completely dependent on the power of Christ is more attractive than a thousand programs. Our God is living and active--and as He acts, He draws all men to Himself. That's the only evangelism that really matters.