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I love people. I really do. Friends, neighbors, people I meet in line at Starbucks—I sincerely care about them all. But I haven’t always cared for people. In the past two years, God has changed my heart. And as my love for people increases, so does my desire to tell them about Jesus. The essence of evangelism is acting on my love for others by telling them about Jesus.

I used to avoid the topic of evangelism at all costs because I found it uncomfortable, scary and weird. I would excuse myself for not engaging in evangelism by thinking thoughts such as “I’m better at discipleship” or “I live a good life.” Those thoughts made me feel better about the fact that I was being directly disobedient to Jesus by not evangelizing.

However, God recently showed me that evangelism is not an option. It is a command. Jesus didn’t give us a great idea; He gave us the Great Commission. And He was serious about our doing as He commanded. (See Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8.)

We cannot ignore or overlook opportunities for evangelism. Heaven and hell are real, and our friends will spend eternity in one place or the other. Every single person you and I encounter today will spend eternity somewhere. Therefore, we have to get serious about evangelism.

Jesus never said it would be easy or comfortable; He simply told us to do it. I’m sure that Jesus knew it would be awkward for us to sit across the table from our friend and talk about our faith while eating tacos, but He still told us to do it. He knew people would assume we are crazy, but He asked us to do it anyway. If Jesus is the door (John 10:7), then maybe our awkward conversations are the hinges. Every door needs hinges.

Additionally, we have to be careful not to substitute “being nice” in place of evangelism. For example, paying for someone’s meal, cleaning someone’s yard or being a good coworker is not evangelism; nice is a supplement to, not a substitute for, evangelism. We should always be nice to people, but being nice is not evangelism. I have never been so nice to people that they accepted Jesus.

The only time I’ve seen people accept the message of Jesus is after they heard the message. And the only way they can hear about Jesus is by someone telling them (Rom. 10:14). Evangelism will always require us to ask tough questions and engage in actual conversations that are centered on Jesus.

When we love people, we tell them about Jesus. We are sent to evangelize. I hope that you will join me in renewing a commitment to fulfilling the command that Jesus has given us.

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is the senior pastor of Oasis Church (Holly Springs Foursquare Church) in Holly Springs, N.C.

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