My dad recently sent me the following article from A Treasury of Bible Illustrations.
A secretary on the job is engulfed in problems. Her husband left her; a son is in rebellion; she can barely make ends meet. She cries out for help. We don’t hear.
A fellow employee is overwhelmed by the complexity of overcoming his chronic drinking problem. He longs for a friend. We’re deaf to his cries. The owner of the gas station where we’ve traded for years has just lost his wife. His eyes echo his loneliness. We don’t see. A wife would love to share with us the trauma and trivia of her day just to have a listening ear. Our ears are closed.
And as the “perfect” ending to such a self-centered day, we hurry to the church building and get our weekly door-knocking assignment as we hasten to engage a cold prospect in an ambiguous process which we have labeled evangelism. Does that approach make sense? It seems to me it is time we acknowledged the fact that a good translation of the Great Commission has it reading: “As you are going into all the world. . . .” You see, we are in such a hurry to “go!” that we miss the very ones whom God brings into our path as we are going.”
May God awaken us to the realization that true evangelism is loving the world the way God loves it; allowing our hearts to be broken by the things that break God’s heart; acknowledging that there is no dichotomy between “evangelism” and “benevolence” that true evangelism begins with Matthew 10:42: “And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
We Christians are “self-centered” because of our beliefs. Since we believe salvation is only through belief in Jesus and his death for our sins, our emphasis will be to get others to believe; it will not be to imitate the compassion God shows to each and every one of us. If, however, we believe salvation is the change of our soul so it becomes more like God, then we will be just as concerned that we help people in need as we are about their belief system.