Of the many assignments Learner received last week, one was to read Jerram Barrs’ The Heart of Evangelism. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long time since Learner read a book on evangelism. And, while the ideals of “going and making disciples” and “always having an answer for the faith he professes” were motivating in his early faith, Learner says the reality of his non-existent evangelistic life – not just in the past year, but easily the past five – is quite embarrassing. He wonders how true of the American church this really is, or if he’s the only person training for the ministry who has little to no desire to seek out relationships with unbelievers in the midst of learning more about God, his heart for the world, etc.
Part of his problem over time (at least as he has so quickly rationalized it) has been the fact that the “place” mentality of campus living he has so enjoyed has really served as a huge barrier to the natural flow of all kinds of people, particularly unbelievers, into his life. This, of course, has not been supplemented by any kind of intentionality in the midst of those non-campus journeys out into the world; rather, his mentality has always been one of “leaving the fortress” of home, hoping not to get thrown off track of his errand list or timetable, being courteous to all the people he’s sure he’ll never see again (and he usually doesn’t), and then making it home unscathed despite the hassle of having to go out in the first place.
After reading half the book, he again finds himself wondering (as he says he has many times before), what kind of heart he really has for unbelievers? Or, perhaps a more penetrating question (as asked in his Apologetics and Outreach class, for which the book reading was assigned last Thursday) is this: “Who do you love to hate?”
Learner says his “love to hate” list goes something like this:
– demeaning extroverts
– Muslim fundamentalists
– really, really brilliant people
– parents who don’t discipline their children
– overly (annoyingly) happy people
– poor people
– rich people
– people unconcerned with hygiene
– and, after reading this list, himself
He’s sure the list could go on, but the length of it (and his ease in creating it) bothers him. The more he thinks about it, he wonders if his “fortress mentality” is truly to blame for his lack of evangelism of people – seems to be more of his heart and its inability to break for others in need, in want, in sin, in darkness, in life.
God, forgive him for being so opposite of You in so many ways. Help him love people. He wants to…and he doesn’t…but he does…really.