As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him (Matthew 4:18-22, CSB)
Jesus did not employ an elaborate evangelism scheme, did He? “Follow me,” He said, and kept walking. No persuasive argument, no apologetic discourse, no polite debate. Just an invitation to go where He was going.
Peter, Andrew, James and John were not made to study theology or doctrine or church history before they could follow Jesus. They were not asked to confess a belief or recite a prayer or sign a card. All they had to do was leave what they were doing and go with Jesus.
There was something in Jesus’ invitation that aroused their curiosity enough that they did just that. They left their fishing boats and nets and family behind and began walking with Jesus. And from that simple beginning came the Church that we know today. All Christians down through the ages have answered that same call to some degree or another. So why do we think evangelism needs be so complicated?
Jesus is not physically present on the earth today as He was when He invited Peter and the others to follow Him. He has now given us the task–or rather, the privilege–to invite others to go where He is going. Yet it is not for us to say to another, “Go, follow Jesus. Good luck and God bless you.” No, evangelism is to invite another to walk with us as we seek to follow Jesus. “Come with me,” we can say, “and as we walk through life I will help you to get to know the One who knows you and me so very well. I will help you to learn to see Him and hear Him.” Evangelism is to invite another to walk beside you, to observe how you deal with hardship and struggles, to listen as you conduct business and speak of your spouse and children and friends. It is to allow another to see your faults and flaws and then watch as God uses hammer and chisel and sandpaper to remove those flaws in making you into the image of His Son.
“Come with me” does not mean you are already perfect. It is an invitation for someone else to watch as God perfects you in His way and with His methods. You don’t have to get this person to grasp deep theological truths. Watching you go through life grasping the hand of your Savior is the best way to convey what words cannot.
Does this scare you? If it doesn’t, then I question whether or not you have really heard me. It should scare you. Who among us is a perfect teacher, a excellent model of Christlikeness? Yet here is the Good News: Immanuel. God with us. Jesus may not be physically walking the earth, but He is with us in a very real way, through the Holy Spirit. If you walk with your eyes on the Lord, then inviting someone to walk with you is inviting them to walk with Jesus.
Simple? Yes. Scary? Undoubtedly. Doable? By the grace of God, yes.
All that God is waiting for is to hear us say, as His prophet Isaiah cried, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”
Are you willing to let even one person walk with you in your journey with Jesus? That is the true meaning of evangelism.