As a Christian, and especially as a seminarian, I feel people are often looking for my response to the question, “Why do you believe in Jesus?” Sometimes they are bold and ask it out loud but more often they ask in roundabout ways. Once people identify me as Christian, I think they start watching for characteristics that display me as Christian and they compare the things they see with their own definition of being Christian. Whether or not they have read the Bible or believe the Bible to be valid are of lesser concern to the mental ideas of Christianity they hold to be “real”.
I feel they ask, in one way or another, why I believe in Jesus because we have a human curiosity to know the reasons behind someone’s actions or beliefs. My response to their question hinges on my definition of evangelism.
My classmates and I were asked in a Christian Ethics class to describe the word evangelism because the professor was trying to enable us to assign definitions to words we often throw around too casually. We were asked to define it using a what, why and how. I said the following:
WHAT: an act
HOW: of sharing the Gospel with others
WHY: in order to bring about in them a belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Redeemer.
Evangelism is an act or expression of the belief and trust one has in Jesus Christ to others. This is seen in everything we do. Every decision we, as Christ-followers, make influences others’ perceptions or beliefs in the Gospel. Sometimes this is actually sharing a testimony of faith with a non-believer (a more traditional definition of evangelism). But evangelism is also my wearing a bracelet with a cross on it to a secular meeting or choosing not to watch certain shows or movies because of the images or messages they portray. Evangelism is holding the door for someone coming in from the rain or telling a stranger who shared a difficult part of their life with you that you would pray for peace in their situation.
All the actions we take along the life path we walk are part of our living definition of evangelism. It’s not about conversions—that is the job of the Holy Spirit—and it’s not about church members—that’s incidental. It’s about showing those around us the most genuine reflection of the Gospel we can show and relying on the grace of God to reveal to us how to do that better tomorrow.