After church one evening my whole group of friends went out to Applebee’s. We had a large group so multiple tables were pushed together to accomodate us. As we began ordering and joking around, my best friend sat at the other end of the table, so I hustled around to tell him something, when boom. My head ran right into one of the hanging lamps and I literally saw stars (normally the lamp hung over the center of the tables, but since all the tables were rearranged…). The lamp “popped” and went out (they later had to replace it). And I sat down, forgetting what I was to tell Brantley.
As we read scripture, the light should come when we read, time and again, Jesus is sitting down for dinner. So often when we picture evangelism, Billy Graham’s huge tent revivals come to mind, or maybe the a guy shouting “turn or burn” on the street corner. Do not get me wrong these can be examples of evangelism, Jesus spoke to big crowds nearly everywhere, BUT he always sat down and had dinner.
In those days there were no movie theaters or football games, so the major form of entertainment was the dinner party (which is amazingly still popular). Jesus did not avoid culture or parties; instead, He embraced them, joined them, kept the party going (see John 2 for his first miracle). And all the while He ministered. All the while He witnessed!
In the same way, we are probably not called to be Billy Graham or to stand up on our desk and declare a message from God (If God tells you to do something which seems crazy, then by all means, DO IT!). Still, we are all called to witness, to evangelize. And our calling is to build relationships in love. To demonstrate the love of Christ to others. Then when we are hanging out, to not be scared, but to talk to them about what God has done for us (of course we must have something to say!, which is often a problem…).
Coming back to my group in high school. We invited all kinds of people to hang out with us. And when they came we loved them and embraced them. So they would come back and in time we would invite them to church. And because they trusted us they would come… Or sometimes we would have conversations about Jesus, and I imagine at first they thought we were strange. BUT they liked us, they liked hanging out with us, so they would join the conversation. Our goal was not to convert them, to save them from Hell, so much as to tell them the good news of Jesus. The good things we had discovered when we encountered Jesus!
Of course some people still thought we were crazy and I am sure they made fun of us behind our backs… but that was ok. We were committed to Christ!