Fishing for Souls: Compelled by Love!

Jonathan ScottBy Jonathan Scott8 Minutes

Hello again, Jonathan Scott, and welcome to Strengthen Your Walk. You know, when it comes to fishing, there are a variety of different styles of fishing. There’s angling, which is what you use when you use a hook. There’s also netting. There’s trawling — either a net or a line that you drag behind a boat. There’s fly fishing. There’s ice fishing. There’s trapping. And there’s spearfishing. Quite frankly, I think the one that’s the least romantic for me is spearfishing. When you’re spearfishing, it’s just the fish and no lure, no bait, nothing except the harpoon from out of nowhere they didn’t see coming.

Similarly, in evangelism, with sharing the gospel there are a variety of different styles. There is mass evangelism or crusade evangelism with thousands of people. There is preaching in a church or Bible study evangelism. There’s door-to-door evangelism. I participated in several of those. But then there’s also relational evangelism. As a matter of fact, in several conferences that I’ve been to, when people who were leading the conferences asked the folks, “How many of you came to Christ as a result of a crusade?” A few hands went up. But when they would ask the question, “How many of you came to Christ because of a relationship you had with someone who led you to Christ?” It was always the majority, which means that for those of us who know Jesus Christ, there is an important role that we play in relational evangelism.

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The one-on-one experience of helping people to know who Christ is and to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Whatever the method is, it’s got to be motivated by love. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reminds us of this. He says, “For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. And He died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

What compelled them — and get this straight — it’s not my love for Christ that compels. It’s His love, His love that compels to the point where you just can’t stop it. You can’t hold it to yourself. But sometimes we can even proclaim the gospel without that sense of love.

There was a situation when my son was born 30 years ago and I’m in the hospital holding him. I’m blown away by the magnitude of that experience. There were three people that showed up at the hospital door. They were going door to door in the hospital with evangelism. I remember they looked into the room and said, “Ooh, congratulations on your baby.” And then launched right into their gospel presentation. I felt like I was being spearfished. In other words, in that moment, they no longer really cared about my baby or about what was going on with me or even the fact that I was a pastor. They launched into their presentation. Maybe they loved me, but sometimes the way that we communicate the gospel also illustrates the depth of love that not only we have for them, but that Christ has for them as well.

Isn’t it interesting that God translated Himself into a baby, into a human being to reach us where we were. And then, Jesus would describe Himself as one Who is gentle and humble in heart. The attitude of love that comes toward us. So, let me ask you a question. How is your love for those who don’t know Jesus?

Can I be honest with you that sometimes my love is not where it should be? Sometimes I can get distracted. I can get disoriented. I can focus so much on what I do for Christ that sometimes my love for others is not where it should be. We need some help, right? So, can I encourage us to take the time to actually remember what it was like when we experienced the love of Christ for us? What it was like when we realized that His love, His life was given so freely for us that saved us from our penalty, that saved us from our guilt, our separation from God. And He reached into us and there was someone that communicated that message to us that realized it’s God. Who’s doing that? Then we also ask Jesus to nourish His love in us for those that are around us.

I love the story from Penn Jillette, who is an entertainer and magician. I heard this from him several years ago when after a performance a Christian businessman came up to him and basically complimented his performance. In the conversation, he gave him a pocket New Testament Bible. Now, Penn Jillette is an atheist. Still is. No interest in God whatsoever. But I remember looking at his testimony and him saying, “This guy was a good man. Wasn’t crazy, wasn’t a kook. He really did seem to have a care for me and he gave me this pocket New Testament and he really respected me.” Penn kept saying this was a good man.

Penn went on to say, “Listen, I don’t believe in God, but I, and as a matter of fact, for those people who evangelize, I respect people who evangelize. As a matter of fact, if you know that eternal life is possible and that there’s eternal condemnation how much do you have to hate somebody to not tell them that eternal life is possible?” That’s coming from an atheist. That somehow our love for the lost, His love in us for the lost, would compel us to tell people the truth.

No matter what our equipment is — the different styles of evangelism — it needs to be motivated by a love greater than ours, a love that Jesus Christ gives us for those that He calls to Himself through us. May every effort that we take in evangelism reflect that kind of love and compel us to share the gospel.

When we come back next time, we’re going to take a look at the importance of knowing where to fish, when to fish, and to maximize the opportunity of communicating the gospel to those who need it. Join me next time here at Strengthen Your Walk.

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