Jesus also said,
“This is what the kingdom of God is like.
A man scatters seed on the ground.
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
If we think of evangelism in terms of process of a journey to the Christian faith, what might that have been like for the Apostle Paul?
Allow me to speculate a little.
The Seeds of Faith
First, here are some background events and influences that shaped his journey faith:
- Jewish scholar (likely with lots of discussions about meanings of texts).
- Pharisee of Pharisee (Acts 23:6)
- Of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews (Phil 3.5)
- Studied under Gamaliel (Acts 22.3).
The Lord uses our our background to shape the spiritual awakening.
One could compare that to lots of seeds that the Holy Spirit can use to awaken faith.
A seed doesn’t bloom to harvest instantly.
There is no “on-off” switch.
The seed needs time to germinate, grow, and mature through a natural organic progression.
Our job as a witness to watch for markers of the journey that our friends are on to faith in Christ and nurture them along into the next phase of growth. We can look for the seeds that are already there.
Possible Restlessness that Opens the Door
Then there are the event of the time when Paul first begins to appear on the scene in Acts:
- Present at Stephen’s speech and stoning (Acts 8:1)
- Trying to destroy the church, going from house to house (Acts 8:3).
One can reasonably speculate on how Paul interacted with the early Christian believers ready to suffer and die for their faith in Christ. We think highly of the witness of the persecuted church and it’s reasonable to assume that Paul saw that witness.
I can imagine him ruminating in late night hours as perhaps something bothered him about their witness.
- Maybe he heard them praying for him.
- Maybe he heard their witness to him.
- Maybe he even felt their love.
Likewise, if Paul’s teacher is the same Gamaliel of Acts 5:34-39, Paul may have observed that even his teacher may have been troubled by the genuineness of the early Christian movement.
Perhaps he knew his teach Gamaliel was puzzled as well.
This restlessness (speculation, I know) prepared Paul for his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road.
I can imagine how the Holy Spirit was using these life moments to prepare Paul.
This is the drawing process. (Read John 6:44)
We get to participate in the evangelism process
I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit draws people to faith over time.
Sometimes we get to plant, water, or harvest.
Each story I listen to of a journey to faith had more than one key turning point in the discovery of God.
It might have been a
- Invitation to a church or event
- Life circumstances
- Late night musings over deep issues.
So much of our evangelism training focuses on the conversion, we forget to allow for the process of maturity.
We need to allow our seeking friends time
- to make their decision,
- find answers for their questions
- become willing to consider the claims of Christ
- find healing for wounds caused by Christians or other people that harm their journey.
Evangelism is often viewed only as the proclamation of the gospel. In a technical sense – it is.
But when I think of evangelism as the process of faith awakening, there is a lot of potentially evangelistic activity.