Yes, You Can!
“Jesus went about doing good…”
He wasn’t confined to the inside of the Temple, though he was frequently there.
When we were ignited with this simple idea we began to do as Jesus did, Some of our initial projects included these:
- Free carwashes
- Salting iced sidewalks
- Bird feeder and seed to older people in homes
- Bottles of water
- Moving lawns
- Coffee backpacks
- Raking leaves
- Shoveling snow from driveways
- Paying library fines
- …even toilet paper give always in front of
No matter the version of an entry point it takes, servant evangelism has to do with vertical and horizontal spiritual power — leaning into God’s vertical presence for success, then giving his life in us away in generous and practical ways to others.
Here’s the math version of this simple idea:
Serving (actions of practical love)
Evangelizing (words to clarify that love)
I met a reader of my first book, Conspiracy of Kindness, who’d just flown from Sydney to Los Angeles. As he took in my message, he began to wonder how passengers would respond to the question, “As you see it, who is the most influential Christian voice of our day?” He questioned the entire section of his part of the plane which was several dozen folks. As he asked that over and over he found it interesting that only two names popped up.
It was interesting that 100% of the non-Americans gave the same name — Mother Teresa. On the other hand, 100% of Americans had someone else in mind — Billy Graham. No matter where you land on the most influential list, they each perhaps did shape the 20th Century’s view of Christianity. Mother Teresa emphasized the power of doing the works of Jesus. Billy Graham, on the other hand, was better known for his emphasis on preaching the salvation message of the Bible. It is perhaps oversimplified, but one way to summarize this is:
Mother Teresa — showing mercy and compassion of Jesus.
Billy Graham — explaining the message of Jesus.
A good summary of Servant Evangelism is this: One part Mother Teresa plus one part Billy Graham. If we could sprinkle a little bit of each of their DNA, both mercy and generosity together with a life build upon our commitment to Jesus and a high value for God’s word.
The Mother Teresa part, the “S” for serving, is the easier portion for most people. But when you add the “E” — connecting with a message of personal faith in Jesus — is more natural and doable.
I now perceive one giant omission in my psychology —
the deep principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
— William James
“Jesus went about doing…” — what he did, what he modeled.
He spoke words and he did works of the Kingdom of God. He was a “word worker.”
When started to work out what God had shown me — yes we will do what Jesus did. Let’s experiment to see what works best with living out that life.
The life message of Jesus was a combination of words and works. He brought the message of God’s Kingdom partly in words — spoken and written. The rest of his message was augmented by his works. That message? God has come to establish a new way of living and relating to Him, and a healthy way to relate to one another.