The purpose of my life (along with every follower of Jesus) is to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. Those two pursuits - more and maturing - depend on one another. For, in order to be a maturing disciple of Jesus I need to give my life to reaching more disciples for the King. One of the difficulties in evangelism, especially for long-time Christians who haven't been sharing the Gospel for years, is we forget what it was like to be outside the Kingdom. We forget (or don't know) what the process of coming to Jesus looks like for someone who didn't grow up within the church of Jesus Christ. We need to get "into their shoes" so that we might speak the truth with gentleness, understanding, and love.
While there are many ways to grow in this area, one way I do so is by reading. Recently, I've been learning from author Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. She has written an incredibly helpful book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an english professor's journey into the christian faith.
Her words about the process of submitting to Jesus will get you thinking:
In the pages that follow, I share what happened in my private world through what Christians politely call conversion. This word - conversion - is simply too tame and too refined to capture the train wreck that I experienced in coming face-to-face with the Living God. I know of only one word to describe this time-released encounter: impact. Impact is, I believe, the space between the multiple car crash and the body count. I try, in the pages that follow, to relive the impact of God on my life....
Making a life commitment to Christ was not merely a philosophical shift. It was not a one-step process. It did not involve rearranging the surface prejudices and fickle loyalties of my life. Conversion didn't "fit" my life. Conversion overhauled my soul and personality. It was arduous and intense. I experienced with great depth the power and authority of God in my life. In it I learned - and am still learning - how to love God with all my hear, soul, strength and mind. When you die to yourself, you have nothing from your past to use as clay out of which to shape your future.
The rest of her story is worth your time, to understand more fully the impact of Jesus and the Gospel on a person outside the Kingdom, for we need to be honest about the cost of becoming a disciple. Let's remember how Jesus talked about it, and not pretend that what we are calling people to is easy.
The Cost of Discipleship
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
(Luke 14:25-33, English Standard Version)