Don’t let the word “evangelism” in the title of the post scare you. I cannot recommend Learning Evangelism from Jesus more happily to anyone who wants to learn more about Jesus. Through Prof. Jerram Barrs‘ perspective, we are reminded that in following Christ, our whole life is to be evangelism. The way we go about the most mundane task is a witness of the work of Christ in our lives.
There is a simplistic beauty in learning evangelism by observing the record of Christ’s work in Scripture. Coming from an evangelical tradition where Scripture is held as the guide for all wisdom in life, it seems completely natural to look at Jesus in this way. There are many methods of evangelism in the modern Christian scene but in my experience, I have not had the pleasure of encountering a philosophy of practicing evangelism that sought to base its understanding and method on the example of Christ. This book has been my first experience with such a clearly defined focus on learning how to declare the Gospel primarily by examining various encounters that Jesus had.
I tend to feel like I am living passively in my faith in Christ if I am not being challenged to apply Scripture to my life. Sometimes, I reach the point where I am offended and made to re-evaluate my assumptions on the way life should be. The Lord has used these moments in my life to draw me to repentance and to different perspectives on His call on my life. There were various moments in this book where I experienced this again. I am guilty of establishing false rules that go beyond the prohibitions of God. Rather than following the example of Christ, I have followed the example of the Pharisee. I meant well but I was still adding prohibitions to the Word of God. I need to be faithful to what God has spoken and take the risk of allowing others around me to abuse these areas of freedom. I cannot make more rules and expect people to “get it.” At some point, I have to trust that God gave all the law that is necessary and that “…the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Rom. 5:20).” I need to risk practicing grace!
A major takeaway from this book in my own life is that I will be reading and hearing the accounts of Christ’s parables in a much more practically instructive manner (a sad confession…I know). There has always been an assumption on my part that thought: “Well, He was Jesus! I’m not Him, so I can’t use these parables for much more than observing and taking note of how He related to people as God.” I think I do this because I under emphasize the humanity of Jesus. No, we cannot read peoples thoughts or know their hidden past and use these things for the sake of evangelism but we certainly can follow the examples of grace, mercy, and wisdom contained therein. There is a goldmine of points of application for multiple points of practical Christian living in the parables of Jesus. I hope these lessons sink deep within me for the sake of the Gospel. As a bearer of the good news I will be tempered with the grace in truth toward pagan and Pharisee alike. I can do this because the parables are more real to me now than ever.
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