Mark 1:1 - The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour message, which can be found at lhm.org.
Spencer was explaining how he became a Christian when he was in college. A friend of his told him about Jesus—that He is the Son of God come into the world, that He sacrificed His life on the cross and rose from the dead so that we could be God's beloved children, and that Jesus calls us to trust Him and follow Him. This friend "evangelized" him ("evangel" means "good news"—so to evangelize someone is to good-newsify them, to tell them the Gospel about Jesus). So, his friend evangelized him, and Spencer believed. Spencer became a Christian. But there was another person involved. Spencer's roommate that semester was also a Christian. And though the roommate didn't directly evangelize him, he did provide an indirect witness to Jesus by his daily words and deeds. Spencer said that living with his roommate also helped him become a Christian.
Defining "evangelism," Christians will sometimes focus on either a direct or an indirect approach. We can think of examples of the direct approach: door-to-door evangelists, street preachers, speakers at rallies, revivals, and radio broadcasts. They get right to the point, like Peter did in his Pentecost sermon: "Repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38b). Others who define evangelism will emphasize the indirect approach. They might call it "lifestyle" or "relational" evangelism. Sometimes these two approaches get pitted against each other. But there's no need for that. The Bible reveals many approaches, some direct, like Peter preaching at Pentecost, and others, indirect, like how Peter encouraged the wife of an unbelieving husband to win him over to Jesus "without a word," by her good conduct (1 Peter 3:1b).
There's another form of evangelism modeled in the Bible that is too often overlooked, an approach that is both direct and indirect at the same time. These are the biographies of Jesus, which are called "Gospels." Gospel is a translation of the Greek word "evangel." That's why these biographers—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are called "the four evangelists." Each of their narratives are also examples of evangelizing. Take Mark's Gospel, for example. He says, "This is the beginning of the Gospel about Jesus, the Messiah, God's Son." First sentence. Direct. To the point. Way to go, Mark! But then notice what he does. He tells a two-hour long story. He indirectly shows you who Jesus is and why He matters.
Next week, the church begins the 40 days of Lent. During this season, consider setting aside two uninterrupted hours to read or listen to all of Mark's Gospel. Consider doing it once a week, for each of the seven weeks in Lent. See what happens. Let Mark evangelize you and energize you for evangelism. Let him tell you about Jesus. Ultimately, evangelism isn't about a what, but a Who. Jesus Himself is the Good News—His character, accomplishments, and intentions for us. Maybe that's why God has given us so many ways to evangelize? Because God's love in Jesus is something no one can adequately express, and no heart can fully fathom. We simply have to live with Him, not just for a season or a semester, but all eternity.
WE PRAY: Dear Father, help me see Jesus more clearly, share Him more consistently, and treasure Him eternally, because He is Your beloved Son. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Have you decided on a spiritual discipline for Lent? What were you thinking?
2. How might extended reading or listening to Mark's Gospel be part of your Lenten journey? When could you devote two hours of uninterrupted time to this? Could you do it multiple times?
3. Could you name someone who has modeled for you a more direct approach to evangelism? What about an indirect approach? How did they model it faithfully?
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