While I am teaching in Nicaragua this week, one of my pastor friends has graciously allowed me to share this article with you all. It’s from a class he is teaching on personal Evangelism.
The 4 P’s and Evangelism
The mere mention of the word “evangelism” often has the ability to instill the strongest adult with fear.
While this may be a rather common reaction there is good news for us as we prepare to share…the Good News! The evening of that first Easter day finds the disciples gathered together in fear, behind locked doors.
As believers and disciples today we see here an uncanny resemblance between us and those first disciples. They were huddled together in that locked room because they feared the Jewish religious leaders that had crucified Jesus.
Today we find ourselves with a variety of fears when approaching the idea of evangelism:
- what do I say,
- what if I mess up,
- will I offend someone,
- I’m too shy.
Our fear often has the ability to wall us off to the work and mission that God has called us to undertake.
But the good news is…this story does not end with the disciples fearfully locked in room. No, through an encounter with the risen Lord they receive the 4 P’s from Jesus which enable them to faithfully carry out their ministry…and we need to open ourselves to receive these same 4 P’s.
Locked behind those doors and huddled in fear, the risen Lord comes into their midst—he blesses those disciples with his Presence. It is interesting to note that Jesus met them where they were—he met them slap dab in the middle of their fear. He came seeking them out rather than waiting on them. Jesus met them where they were just as he meets us where we are—fear and anxiety included. As we accept the challenge of evangelism we must never forget that we are not alone but actually have the presence of our Lord and Savior.
Once in their midst, Jesus bestows Peace upon them. In the midst of a fearful situation, Jesus offers them comfort and assurance. In essence they are told that while the outcome may not be totally clear, everything is going to be alright. The peace of Christ is not a magic umbrella that protects us from everything that could go wrong, but it is a challenge to trust the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.
After filling the disciples with comfort and assurance, Jesus gives them Purpose. Just as God had sent him into the world to teach and share the will of God, so now Jesus sends the disciples into the world to not only share the word of God, but to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. No longer is it enough to be content that we have accepted the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ…now we are tasked to carry that message to others. Later on Jesus will make clear that the message is to extend to all the earth.
While the sheer prospects of carrying the Good News into all the world is overwhelming, before Jesus departs he breathes upon them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In doing this Jesus gives them Power. The task Jesus has just given the disciples is no longer dependent simply on their ability and strength; they now have the power of the Holy Spirit guiding them in their efforts. In our fears of evangelism, we too must remember that we have been give a power that is far greater than ourselves…and we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us as we seek to be faithful disciples as we share with others the good news of Jesus Christ.
I encourage you, as you undertake the challenge of evangelism, to keep in mind the 4 P’s—Presence, Peace, Purpose and Power. These 4 P’s enabled the disciples to move beyond their fear, through the locked door, into the world, and they have the power to do the same for us as well.
The article itself comes from Pastor Joe Washburn, a Presbyterian Pastor in North Carolina.
- McKenzie, Alyce. “Locked In and Locked Out: Reflections on John 20:19-29.” Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith. April 17, 2013, http://www.patheos.com/Progressive-Christian/Locked-In-Locked-Out-04-02-2013.html
- Ewing, J. (2013, April). “Behind Locked Doors.” Sermon presented at Community Presbyterian Church, Pinehurst, NC.