What is the Work of an Evangelist?

Unity.

It’s a simple word.

It’s a concept people can get behind. Immediately, we appreciate the advantages of it. There is strength in numbers. There is peace in agreement.  Majorities make waves. There’s a certain security in group covenant.

The Psalmist agrees. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” Psalm 133 ESV

And yet, we can’t be afraid to stand alone. To buck the trend. To resist the prevailing culture. To state the truth even if that causes a divide.

Luke records Jesus’ startling statement in Luke 12:49-52 ESV “‘I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.  For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.’”

So, choosing Christ and asserting biblical truth may divide us from those who reject Him. But within the Body of Christ, Jesus calls us to maintain the unity we have in Him.

Jesus prayed for us in the hours before He was betrayed and said, “‘I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.’” John 17:20-23 ESV

The work of an evangelist, therefore, is to preach the gospel, but it is also to invest significant effort to maintain unity between brothers and sisters on this side of glory.

In the past weeks, I have seen influential Christians fall from grace, Bible teachers slandered and reviled over social media, celebrity Christians arrested for grievous sins, and the visible church divided to the point of public shaming and name calling over a vaccine, police and racism, or the political color of a home state.

I’ve experienced a variety of emotions about the conflicts and the compromise, ranging from judgment to anger to sorrow to shame. But as I brought these feelings to God and examined the thoughts that provoked them, He led to me to a new emotion – determination.

I am determined not to go down without a fight.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV

If standing on God’s truth divides us from those who reject God, there is nothing to fear from that. Whatever results is God’s business. He protects and He provides.

But we must determine to use every weapon at our disposal (weapons not of this world) to work through the issues that divide the Body of Believers with all the power of Christ. To maintain the unity of believers is to preach the gospel with our lives.

It is in Christ that all ethnicities find unity. It is where male and female find unity. It is where people of every class, economics, political persuasion, background, and philosophy find unity. There, kneeling at the cross, confessing Christ as Lord, we are one. And in that unity, Jesus is glorified.

He is worth every effort.

God, in His wisdom, adopts us into a family when He receives us through Jesus. A vast, sprawling, opinionated redeemed family in the messy process of sanctification. And surrounding us are those who only think they know Jesus. And still others who know they don’t believe but show up for the company. And still others with darker motives. The visible church and the true believers. The wheat and the tares.

The wheat needs to continue to grow to maturity despite the effort of the tares to choke it out. Be wheat. Sink our roots in the soil. Rise toward the Son. Receive the raindrops of blessing. And keep growing.

Don’t wilt at the presence of tares. Dare to grow.

Growing up in Christ entails knowing our Bibles – the whole story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. Really determining what we believe to be true about our God. Submitting to sound teaching. Living in obedience to what we understand. Acting NOW on God’s commands. Resisting evil. Standing firm through trial. Being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

And refusing to give up on one another. Leaning into the conflict – not slinking away in fear or cooling our hearts in apathy. Following Christ requires courage. We must call out cowardice in our mirrors, confess it at the cross, repent of it at the temptation to retreat to any dark corner, and ask for bold Christ-centered confidence to look complexity, disagreement, and hard topics in the eye saying, Bring it on, in the name of Jesus. We will persevere, laying aside every word that doesn’t serve the unity that is ours in Christ.

We will be unpopular together. We will be misunderstood side-by-side. We will rise, not in popularity, but on the wings of the Holy Spirit.

Turn Satan’s tactic back on Satan. Let every disagreement sent to divide and discourage fuel your determination to press on toward the prize in Christ Jesus.

What say you?

 

You’re invited to join me in the coming weeks as I return to my roots as a student of God’s Word and share thoughts on applying biblical truth to daily life and current events in a series of videos. They will appear first in my Facebook group, Invisible Christians Unite (I.C.U.) and sometime later, I will post them to YouTube. I’d love to have you come along and add to the conversation!


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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Jan Clough says:

    Fighting talk indeed Sister Lori. I join with you in battle keeping my eyes fixed on the one who leads the way. I look forward to the YouTube videos with great anticipation. Bless you Lori in your wonderful encouragement 🙏🏻

  2. Maureen says:

    “…I am determined not to go down without a fight…”
    Yes!
    Thank you for these good words that fill me, too, with determination!

  3. Doris Campbell says:

    Thanks for your beautiful insight. God has blessed you with the gift of writing and telling His story. God Bless you!