When Is the Right Time to Evangelize to an Unbeliever?
- Deirdre Reilly deirdrereilly.com
- 2022 10 May
When you love God and order your life around His will, it is easy to forget how it feels to be “going it alone” as a non-believer — depending on yourself to make decisions large and small, and counting only on other human beings for a deeper sense of love, comfort, and belonging.
God gives us certain opportunities in life to speak about His enduring love, as well as Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We can serve God in a powerful way by evangelizing to others about another way to live — a way other than “going it alone” in this life. But how do we know when it is the right time to speak about God’s love? The last thing we want to do is chase others away from Christ!
Here are some cues and clues to follow when deciding whether to begin to speak to another about what it means to be Christian:
Is the Spirit Moving You?
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God,” reads 2 Corinthians 5:20. An important part of this verse is the word “through” — God working through us. If we stay relaxed and available to God when encountering anyone, we can consistently serve as tools through which He can share His love, power, and mercy. If God wants to begin working in someone’s life, He will. Of course, that person has free will, and can deny the Lord entry into their heart. However, if and when they are open, we can play an important role in introducing them to the Lord.
The best thing to do is to prayerfully ask God if He is working through you as you encounter a person who may need the Lord. Ask Him if the Holy Spirit is at work, and how you can serve that most heavenly purpose. Talking about God to a non-believer can be very challenging; ask for God’s moment-to-moment help when you do so. Listening is so important to sharing God’s love — it will always serve you well to listen to another’s hurt, questions, and doubts when sharing the love of God. As God listens to us, we need to listen to others.
Can You Be Both Available and Humble?
An important consideration when evangelizing — after you feel God’s approval of your prayerful efforts — is assessing your own heart. Can you commit to perhaps several meetings with the person in question, spending time answering questions, praying — if they are comfortable with that — and praying alone for them, as well?
When I was a young adult still living at home, my mother met a woman who was going through a very intense marital crisis. She had been raised Buddhist and was unfamiliar with the Bible. This woman opened up to my mother, sharing her distress and her sense of complete spiritual aloneness as she sought to accept that her marriage was over. This woman noticed my mother’s peace and happiness in the midst of life’s storms, and wanted to know the cause of her positive state of mind.
Slowly, my mother introduced her friend to the Lord. She answered all her questions — one I particularly remember was, “Will God still love me if I smoke cigarettes?” — and prayed with her, and for her. My mother gave her a most precious resource — her time. This woman came to the Lord and was baptized. Sadly, this woman died suddenly several years later, and what a comfort it was to all of us who loved her to know she was going to be with our Lord!
Humility also plays a role in evangelizing. It may seem like a spiritual feather in your cap, so to speak, to bring someone to the Lord. It is human to want to play a big part in someone’s salvation, and to feel proud in doing so! But the searching person may be better served by another, at a certain point in their journey. Can you be humble enough to joyfully make those important connections on behalf of that person, perhaps introducing them to a Bible study, prayer group, or pastor that can pick up the baton and help them on their personal road to Christ? You can continue praying for and with them, but remember to include others in your evangelization efforts.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed,” Proverbs 11:25 teaches. Be generous with your time, your connections, and your resources as you help introduce someone to Christ. You will yourself be refreshed!
Is Your Own Soul in Order?
God knows all, and He knows if we are living the right way, or if we are in a state of perpetual sin. It is important as a Christian to do frequent self-examinations of the soul and conscience; are we living as God would have us live? We must — especially if we evangelize to others about something as important and precious as God’s love and Christ’s holy sacrifice.
We are all sinners. We cannot live perfect lives, as Christ lived, and God uses imperfect people to do His will all the time. The Bible is full of mere humans, with their own flaws, called on to do great things in God’s holy name.
We can all readily recall, however, evangelists, pastors, priests, and preachers who have hidden serious, willful sins while telling us how to live. It feels like a betrayal of the highest order when we find out that the person acting as God’s servant and messenger is conducting a “secret life,” if you will; perhaps carrying out an adulterous affair, committing financial fraud, or worse.
We must ask God continually to strengthen us and forgive us our own sins. Then, we must do our own part to not sin again. If you are helping someone on their path to Christ, your own path must be clear of the debris of sin.
Matthew 5:13 instructs us here: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” We must take this verse seriously. When we stop living as God would have us live, we cease to be the “salt” of the earth — that which fertilizes and preserves, two qualities of salt. Salt also adds flavor, of course, and Christians know that following Christ offers a life full of wonderful and amazing flavor!
Bringing someone to Christ is an honor, a joy, and what we are tasked to do, in our time here on earth. Although we may not want to “step on toes” or insert ourselves into someone else’s life by introducing the ideas of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God’s limitless, enduring love, and truths contained in the Bible, we need to be unafraid to share what we know: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.
“Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins,” James 5:20 reminds. If we are fortunate enough to help someone discover Christ, we have participated in a heavenly event — one that blesses both giver and receiver.
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Deirdre Reilly is a writer and editor, and her commentary has appeared on various websites including CBN.com, FoxNews.com, and others. Her new book, “The Pretend Christian: Traveling Beyond Denomination to the True Jesus,” details her own personal journey through doubt and fear into true belief. You can connect with Deirdre via www.deirdrereilly.com, or follow her on Twitter at @deirdrewrites.