By Randi Peck
I held a sales job for, oh, six weeks when I was in high school. I hated it. And, make no mistake, it hated me.
Door-to-door sports fundraisers, book clubs, and debate team were never my strong suit. Generally, I loathed any situation where my words were required to persuade or sell. So I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to pick up a summer job where my primary responsibilities would include greeting customers and convincing them to make a purchase.
During this short stint in retail, I remember an unsuspecting acquaintance of mine walking into our store. My manager nodded in her direction with raised eyebrows and unspoken expectation. Every fiber in my being cringed, as I dutifully proceeded to awkwardly and poorly inform my friend about our sale-of-the-week.
It wasn’t long before my name “disappeared” off the store schedule.
My inability to make commission ended up being a fairly easy problem to solve (get another job!), but the Great Commission was one I could not shake so easily. You see, for most of my life, I have viewed my call to “make disciples” much like an obligatory sales pitch.
I couldn’t understand why the word evangelism made me want to hide— when I actually believe in the “product”. I mean, talking a friend into buying stuff they don’t need is very different than delivering life-saving news! News that has given me purpose and hope and deep, deep joy.
Clearly, my idea of sharing the gospel was inaccurate- incomplete, at best.
When you read Jesus’ call for the spreading of the gospel, what do you hear? I’ll tell you what I heard: GO, MAKE people get saved. Ahh what?! I couldn’t even sell a candy bar for my 4-H club, how am I supposed to present the weight of eternity to the lost?!
Like Moses, I cried out: Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue. (Exodus 4:10)
But I was missing the truths cradling the command:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. -Matthew 28:18-20
Without the beginning and end of Christ’s commission, we will always fumble around with the good news like it is fragile, ready to be broken with one poor choice of words. No wonder I felt like a pushy door salesman, every time I tried to talk to an unbeliever. I was trying to “save” them. Something I’m entirely incapable of doing.
But viewing this command in its entirety, frees us to see that:
- There is ultimately only one Disciple-Maker. He has all power and authority to save who he will save. His word is unbreakable, and his work is finished.
- We get to be a part of His work, because He is within us. And even as God responded to Moses’ insecurity and faithlessness, he comforts us: Now therefore go, I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak. (Exodus 4:12)
The deal has already been sealed, on the cross. This means we are on a commission that cannot fail, not on commission to “make a sale”.
When I see that grace cannot be broken, only received and shared, evangelism starts to take on a different shape…
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Making disciples is something we are called to, no question. But not on our own. We are not called to sprints to “the other side”— like some sort of capture-the-flag game… Spitting out a rehearsed pitch, then returning to our comfort zone with relief.
Showing and sharing Christ to the world was never intended to be an aggressive speech or a sneaky tract delivery.
No, we are vessels called to carry this news— every encounter and friendship, a chance for us to display Christ. Evangelism can take on ten thousand different forms. But it means proximity. And it involves lifestyle.
When we believe that it is the Holy Spirit who opens eyes and saves souls, it frees us to relationships and conversations that are ongoing. Incomplete. Sowing and watering, as a part of the work, trusting only God gives the growth.
This looks like getting to know that neighbor who tells inappropriate jokes. Caring for an elderly in-law. Opening our home up to those who cannot give back. Arranging our schedules to be around people who are not like us. Carpooling with that family who disdains church.
And the Word actually assumes (1 Peter 3:15) that you won’t necessarily need to bring it up because you will get asked about your radically Christ-like life.
Making disciples looks alien, and it looks ordinary.
On my own, I am still that timid teenager dreading the sales floor. But thankfully, I am promised that I am not on my own. The Holy Spirit opens my eyes to the lost; he equips me for a life of carrying good news; and he enables my slow tongue to sow seeds of truth, a little here and a little there.
As I trust that God is bigger than my feeble attempts to represent him, I pray for a chance to be used.