The Design of Evangelism

Jonah Calling Nineveh to Repentance – Gustav Dore

As I sit here in Siguatepeque, Honduras, I have a question for you: why does God use us to spread His message? Why bother with humans as part of His plan? Why not just show Himself to every human directly and eliminate the “middle man”? After all, I’ve had skeptics tell me they would become Christians if God just did some miraculous demonstration (of their choosing) to convince them. Wouldn’t overcoming their objections with direct revelation be better than what He’s done? I suspect my skeptical friends would still reject God even if He appeared to them directly, just as people rejected Jesus when He was performing signs and wonders in front of them, but still, what might be His design? Design is all about choices aligned to accomplish a purpose, so let’s look at some possible explanations.

  1. That choice to use humans as part of His plan could be to force us to have some skin in the game. No matter your good intentions, you just don’t care as much about something when you’re not personally invested in it.
  2. That choice could be an act of love, for it is an act of love to allow someone to partake in your valued activities. God allows us to be part of His activity of drawing people to Him. Consider an example. If you’re working on your car, and your kid wants to help, you know he’s not going to be mistaken for a member of a NASCAR pit crew, and may be more of a hindrance than if you did it all yourself, but letting your kid help is about more than just accomplishing the task at hand efficiently. It’s about using that time to talk to your kid and teach them important life lessons in the process of working on the car. Can God not do the same with us?
  3. That kind of choice could be a demonstration of His sovereignty and supreme power in that the vast majority of those whom He draws to Himself will come to Him via interactions with very fallible instruments – us Christians. While God can appear to someone directly (like Moses or the apostle Paul), most of us come to know God through preachers, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, friends, neighbors, or even friendly strangers caring enough to tell us the best news we could ever hear. It could very well be that much of our praise of God throughout eternity will be driven by learning just how beautifully He orchestrated our salvation. 

All of these can work together to accomplish God’s purposes of saving those that will be saved, and growing them into strong and mature servants that will glorify Him now and throughout eternity. The question is whether we will accept the gift, the privilege, and the responsibility of sharing in God’s work.