April/May 2014 - Vol. 73
Person to Person: A practical approach to effective evangelism

Personal Evangelism: Part 6
A Portrait of the Christian Ambassador
by Jim Berlucchi

Three qualities are essential for the Christian ambassador. When all is said and done, our success will largely be determined by our faith, our love for God, and our love for men and women.


The work of evangelism depends primarily upon the action of God. God is the One Creator and sustains the world. God himself who intervened in human history to save all men through the one man, Jesus Christ. He now lives in us through the Holy Spirit, whose power enables us to love and serve him. We enter into these realities through faith. Faith is the key for us. Faith in God and reliance upon his promises and power are essential for divine approval. We concur with the writer of Hebrews when he boldly declares that “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6a).

In our evangelistic endeavors, we, too, recognize with the psalmist that “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Ps 127:1). “Unless the Lord,” is the constant instinctive refrain of our hearts as we realize the immensity of our Christian commission, the meagerness of our abilities, and the immeasurable greatness of him who sends us forth. With the psalmist we can say, “Some boast of chariots, and some of horses but we boast in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). In this battle we do not trust in our bow, nor can our sword save us for “In God we have boasted continually” (Psalm 44:8a).

As we serve the Lord in evangelism, we labor by faith in him. Though we gain insight and expertise through experience, our ultimate trust is founded in the work of his own hand with the people we are serving. One of the foremost principles for fruitful evangelism is to pay first concern to what God seems to be initiating in someone’s life and then to cooperate with that lead. Such action is founded primarily in faith.

It is by faith that we decide to reach out to others. It is by faith that we are open about our Christian lives, that we invite friends and neighbors to share our lives, that we pray for them and take concern for them. By faith, too, we share the gospel with them, realizing that God’s word will change lives. Paul rejoiced that his disciples in the city of Thessalonica first responded to his words because they recognized God’s voice. “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Again, Paul emphasizes that God gave the growth in Corinth, even though Paul planted and Apollos watered. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

Exercising faith for those around us can be challenging, particularly in light of some of the painfully obvious obstacles that prevent their spiritual progress. However, one of Satan’s primary strategies to make us ineffective is to discourage and dishearten us. He will bring to our mind all the things that seemingly cannot be overcome. If we focus solely on the obstacles, our confidence will plummet. Here is precisely where faith begins. By its very nature faith focuses not on what is seen, but on what is invisible. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:16). As we work with and pray for those who haven’t fully responded to God’s call, we should view them with the imagination of faith. We should visualize them in our minds’ eye precisely as God would have them be, not as they currently appear to be.

Trusting in God and knowing that our labor is not in vain releases God’s power and enables his servants to work in his peace.

Love of God

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:9).

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:35-38).

Loving God wholly is the ultimate Christian ideal. It is why we were made. Our love for and pursuit of God will fuel our desire to see all people know and follow him.

It is no coincidence that the great evangelists through the ages have always demonstrated a sincere and loving devotion to God himself. This supreme love for Jesus Christ was the foundation for their evangelistic success. Likewise, we must root our evangelism within the context of our decision to love God above everything.

Anyone who would introduce Christ to another must first know Christ well himself. Anyone who would teach another to love Christ must love Christ first himself. The better one knows and loves his master, the more eager and competent he will be to show others the way.

As we direct every dimension of our lives toward loving and serving Jesus, we will, in fact, be increasingly eager to see his will done on earth. We will view those around us with God’s eternal perspective, rather than with our own limited view. As we deepen our contact with the living God, we will bring his wisdom, charity, and courage to bear in our daily situations. The more we love him, the more we will bear his image and likeness, his interests and strengths, his perception and concern. We will see others with his eyes and respond to them with his mercy.

To love the Lord with all our hearts is not a romantic aspiration that provokes primarily an emotional response. It is a decisive commitment to a commandment which should mobilize all our energies and resources. The response is practical, as we seek to surrender our time, money, desires, and relationships to the will and good pleasure of our Maker. To fulfill the commandment requires our allegiance to the person who stands behind it and dependence on his grace to see it realized.

As we love God in prayer, in the reading of his word, and in service, we will grow in the fruit of the Spirit. A fruit tree with deep roots, that is regularly pruned and nourished, bears the most attractive fruit. Likewise, just as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so we should “live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7). The fruit of the Spirit amply demonstrated in the life of a believer serves as an almost irresistible attraction to others. People want to be around and to be like one who embodies love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). Such a person will draw others to Christ. We can demonstrate these qualities of character only to the degree that we are united to Christ.

Loving Others

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself!” (Romans 13:9).

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).

If you really fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well (James 2:8).

The third quality of the Christian ambassador is love for others. The dwelling of God is with man. Human beings are the focus of God’s intense love and concern. God so loved us that he became like us in all things except sin. If the life of Christ shows us anything, it most dramatically and refutably proves God’s love for men.

This second commandment sums up in seven words our obligation to others. This short phrase reflects remarkable psychological insight in directing us to love others as we love ourselves. All of us, by instinct, are concerned for our own need. Consider for a moment how thoroughly aware of our own needs we are. When we feel fatigue, hunger, or pain we eagerly seek relief. We are indignant when cheated, manipulated, violated, or rejected by others. We go to great ends to make life work well for ourselves and to fulfill our aspirations and desires. The orientation to love ourselves comes quite naturally.

If we take but a fraction of this self-love and direct it toward the needs of others, we move in the direction commanded by the Lord. He wants us to become increasingly aware of the needs of others and to demonstrate a readiness to serve them. The Son of Man himself came not to be served, but to  serve, and to offer his life for the ransom of many (Mark 10:45). Our charge is to carry the burdens of our neighbors and to view their needs with genuine concern.

Jesus cited the Good Samaritan as an ideal example of a person who, in his act of service to another human being, fulfilled the second commandment.

Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So, too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

     (Luke 10:30-37)
A brief analysis of the parable can alert us to loving others in our daily situations:

The Samaritan “as he traveled, came to where the man was.” The Samaritan was carrying out his own business when he came upon the man in distress. Likewise, we need not look around for all the needy people we can find in order to fulfill the commandment. The Lord will provide sufficient opportunities in the course of our routine daily life.

The parable says, “and when he saw him.” The Samaritan perceived the man’s awful condition. May we too perceive the miserable condition of our fellow men and women. May we have eyes to see those around us who are ravaged by Satan, lying in sin, at the mercy of their circumstances. The first step in loving others as ourselves is simply to see them as they truly are.

The Samaritan “took pity on him.” His immediate response was pity. He wasn’t repulsed by the bleeding body, as perhaps the Levite had been. He wasn’t indifferent as perhaps the priest was. He responded with compassion. As we see the truly pathetic state of many around us, our response should be the same. It is this attitude which will give birth to appropriate action.

The Samaritan “went to him.” He took initiative. Unlike the priest and Levite who sidestepped the problem, the Samaritan faced it squarely. His pity translated into action and involvement. Likewise, we are called to respond to people and reach out toward them. We should take initiative rather than shrinking back in fear or timidity.

He “bandaged his wounds, pouring out oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.” What a beautiful description of personal service rendered at the cost of personal inconvenience, possessions, and time! With his own hands, cloth, wine, and oil the Samaritan helped the victim. The scripture says that the Samaritan loaded his own donkey with the bruised body. He further cared for him at an inn. Surely our love for others will normally carry a personal price tag.

“The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’” The Samaritan continued to serve at his personal expense and he had enough concern to follow up by insuring for the man’s proper care until his full recovery. He showed a readiness to serve beyond the immediate need. His commitment to the man was genuine and deep, not merely functional. It proceeded from a heart that reflected the intention of God.

As Christian witnesses, we, too, must have a genuine interest in the welfare of others. This compassion and readiness to serve people is essential for effective evangelism. Watchman Nee, a twentieth-century Chinese teacher and martyr, underscored this principle in an address on evangelism and love for men:

If you try to preach the gospel to the unsaved, but have never been touched by the words “God created man,” so that you approach men as your fellows; if you have never had more than a casual interest in men; then you are unfit to preach Christ as “a ransom for many.” It needs to dawn on us that God created man in His likeness and set His love on man because man was exceedingly precious to Him. Unless man becomes the object of our affection we cannot possibly become a servant of men . . .

Brothers and sisters, in the light of God’s passionate concern for man, can you still regard your fellows with indifference? We shall be worthless in His service unless our hearts are enlarged and our horizon is widened. We need to see the value God has set on man; we need to see the place of man in God’s eternal purpose; we need to see the meaning of Christ’s redemptive work. Without that, it is vain to imagine that you and I can ever have a share in the great work of God. How can anyone be used to save souls who does not love souls? If only this fundamental trouble of our lack of love for men can be solved, our many other difficulties in relation to men will vanish. We think some people are too ignorant and we think others are too hard, but these problems will cease to exist when our basic problem of lack of love for men has been dealt with. When we cease to stand on a pedestal and learn to take our place as men among fellow-men, then we shall no longer disdain any.1 

As we grow in these attributes – faith, love of God, and love of neighbor, we will be increasingly useful to the Lord of the harvest. Methods amount to nothing without the Spirit and character of God as the foundation and power of our outreach. That comes with prayer and fellowship with the Spirit. May God grant us all the grace to be formed in his nature so that we may bear lasting fruit for him.
Note 1:   Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Worker (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, 1965), p. 37-38.
[This article is adapted from the book, Person to Person: How to be effective in evangelism, © 1984 by Jim Berlucchi, and published by Servants Books, Ann Arbor.]
Person to Person: How to Be Effective in Evangelism
by Jim Berlucchi

> Part 1: True “No Limit” Message
> Part 2: Everyday Evangelism
> Part 3: Be Open - Be Natural
> Part 4: Building Bridges
> Part 5: Authentic Evangelism
> Part 6: Portrait of the Christian Ambassador
> Part 7: Prayer Makes a Difference
> Part 8: Speaking About Jesus Christ
> Part 9: Earning the Right to Be Heard

Jim Berlucchi is the Executive Director at Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership. He formerly served as the Executive Director of Legatus, an international association of Catholic CEOs. He is the work/life columnist for Faith Magazine, and a published composer and recording artist. Sample audio clips of his music are available online. He served for many years as a community leader in The Word of God and The Sword of the Spirit.He and his wife Judy reside in Dexter, Michigan, USA. They are the grateful parents of eight children and enjoy a steadily increasing number of grandchildren. 
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