Most of us, as Christians, recognize and sense a burden to share the Good News with others. Maybe this is because the “Great Commission” of Jesus to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” is found in four separate locations in the New Testament (Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:19-23 and Acts 1:4-8). In spite of this commission from Jesus, most of us are hesitant to engage others with the Gospel, and as a result, we often feel guilty that we aren’t better evangelists. Churches have responded over the years with a variety of programs and group activities designed to help believers engage the world around us as evangelists. The Church recognizes the burden of the great commission and the guilt that most of us feel as we struggle to become belter evangelists. But why don’t we feel the same level of concern about Christian Case Making (apologetics)?
Why do we embrace the burden of evangelism while relegating the burden of Case Making to professional “apologists”? Paul says something interesting in his letter to the Ephesians:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Paul repeatedly tells us that some of us are designed and given to perform certain functions. Some are apostles, some are prophets, some are evangelists, some are teachers, and some are pastors. Think about that for a minute. The reasonable inference here is that some of us are given to function in this way some of us are not. You may be gifted and given by God to be a pastor or you may not. In a similar way, you may not be an evangelist. We may be called to share our faith (as described in the passages in Mark, Luke, John and Acts), but we probably shouldn’t beat ourselves up and feel guilty if we aren’t great at evangelism. That may not be our gift or our God-given role.
But there’s another calling we ought to feel on our lives as Christians that we usually ignore altogether. Look at what Peter says in a letter written to “exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia”:
1 Peter 3:15-16:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
When addressing Christ followers who had been dispersed into regions filled with non-believers, Peter reminded Christians that everyone shared a responsibility to defend what they believed. In a similar way, Jude, in a letter written to all “who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ,” said:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Both Peter and Jude were unequivocal in their directives to Christ followers. Unlike Paul, who clearly said that not all of us are evangelists, Peter and Jude made a point to say that all of us are Case Makers. So, given the clarity of God’s call on our lives to be accomplished, prepared and articulate Christian Case Makers, why do you still feel guilty that you aren’t a better evangelist, yet are comfortable as a less than adequate Christian Case Maker? Maybe it’s time for all of us to rethink the joyful “burden” we all share as Christians.
J. Warner Wallace is the author of Cold Case Christianity