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Atheist Tuesday: “Just live the life” Evangelism

| 23 Comments

Several months ago I wrote a controversial article explaining to atheists why evangelists must share their faith; I entitled it “The Drowning Woman” and received over 130 comments. In a nutshell, I compared the unbeliever to a woman who doesn’t realize  that she is drowning, and the evangelist/lifeguard must do whatever is necessary to rescue her, even if it may appear rude. (Click here to read it.)

An atheist then brought in his viewpoint: That article, “The Relaxing Man,” essentially describes the atheist as a man enjoying a pleasant lull on the grass in a park when suddenly he is accosted by a crazy person, the evangelist. (Read that here.)

But the most curious comment was from a guy named Bizzle, who calls himself a Christian, but has different ideas on how evangelism should be performed. Here’s his perspective:

As for the evangelism question, I would have to say I evangelize passively, but I’m not sure that’s a correct description. I’ve tried to preach and it doesn’t work for me and there are two reasons for that:

First, I don’t actively evangelize more because I frankly don’t have the answers that folks like [those atheists] are looking for (at least not yet!). I don’t feel I’m doing my job unless I can start them down the road to conversion. To me, just preaching the Gospel is like going to paint a room and only applying primer. If you can’t go all the way, why bother?

The second reason is that I’ve actually opened more people to God’s Word through my day-to-day behavior. I’ve had people ask me how I can act with compassion and good will in such a world and then I tell them about my faith. I won a scholarship for college because I was deemed by the High School staff to be the best living example of faith in my graduating class. (Not trying to brag, just showing how that was the seed of how I share my faith.)

One of my best friends is an atheist, and he has told me that if he were to convert, it’d be because of the way I live my life more than any preaching I have ever done. He considers me a living example of my beliefs. As an aside, he thinks a lot like [one of the atheists on your blog] does, and I thought it was him for a while, but I live in Pennsylvania. I do hand out tracts, but usually only when I get them first or people hand me literature. —Bizzle

  • Does Bizzle have the right perspective when it comes to sharing his faith?
  • Would it be better to just shut-up and live the life?
  • Atheists, would this make any difference to you at all that a Christian was just a quiet example and never preached to you?

23 Comments

  1. Two weeks, and again you did not dedicate a Tuesday to answering Nohm.

  2. Can you imagine if Jesus came and only lived a sinless life?
    Just walked around letting his light shine without ever speaking or teaching or performing the many miracles.
    Hmm… Nope I dare say that we MUST open our mouths for the Gospel to be spread effectively.
    We already KNOW it’s offensive – it was offensive to US before we were saved! So don’t be scared to offend – rather be scared where sinners are headed if we shouldn’t open our mouths and share the Gospel.
    How much do you have to hate someone to not share? Or to say to yourself: It’s not my gift or not my job. Those are excuses and weak ones at that.

  3. “Atheists, would this make any difference to you at all that a Christian was just a quiet example and never preached to you?”

    How much preaching would it take for you to believe that up was down and hot was cold?

  4. “Would it be better to just shut-up and live the life?”

    I have to say, in Real Life, I have found that those that ‘live the life’ don’t preach, and those that don’t shut up, don’t live the life…

  5. Slacking off Steve? We’re kind of disappointed. I generally love the articles on Tuesday because it seems to get people stirred up the most.

  6. Dennis,

    Why couldn’t Jesus perform miracles? Did he proclaim loudly, that because he was the son of God, he would feed everyone? No, he just did it.

  7. Dennis,

    Did I ever say that I never preached? No. When people ask why I act the way I do, then I tell them. I just don’t step on a soapbox.

    Did Jesus use a bullhorn (or the equivalent of the time) to tell everyone that he was going to multiply the loaves and fish? No, he told his disciples to gather food. Then he just did it. I am sure he gained followers that day.

  8. Haha Steve, Atheists are happy, I know because I know a few of them, they’re generally like everyone else, that’s why you shouldn’t generalize. Some of them tend to be more, ‘in your face’ about it, just like a few Christians can be ‘in your face’ when it comes to preaching the gospel. =)

  9. “Atheists, would this make any difference to you at all that a Christian was just a quiet example and never preached to you?”

    Well, it WOULD be quieter…

    But I’m right there with Perdita on this one.

  10. I also agree with vintango2k (“Wine Dance 2000”?) that, overall, atheists seem a happier bunch than most Christians – at least, the ones I’ve met.

    Probably has to do with a couple of facts:

    1. Atheists don’t have that whole “threat of eternal damnation” thing hanging over them. (That’s got to cause a certain amount of stress, at least subconsciously, doesn’t it?)

    2. Atheists don’t feel a mandate to convert other people, because failing to do so condemns those other people to that same hell – again, stress.

    (Stipulation: Admittedly, many of us heathens enjoy a good argument, some are less tactful than others, and some are more passionate about things – the difference is, it’s rarely to convert. We just believe in practicing Freedom of Speech, rather than skulking in the shadows to avoid social condemnation. And at the end of the day, even if the atheists in question were to be trying to convert, if they fail and the churchfolk continue to believe their fairy tales, they’re not going to be tortured eternally – they’re just going to continue believing something silly. So again, less stress.)

    3. Few atheists (or any other flavor of Freethinker) have that paranoid “Big Brother (or Father, I suppose) is watching me!” feeling so prevalent among the churched.

    4. Darned few (see? Toned it down for you – “darned” wasn’t my first choice….) atheists sport the unjustified martyr complex so prevalent among the deeply churched.

  11. Hi Bizzle

    Jesus did MORE than use a bullhorn. He made a whip and did a good job physically cleaning up the temple area which they had desecrated and turned into a corrupt market place. In other words Jesus wasn’t timid or affraid to get into someone’s face.

    Also in my 4 years of being born again – not ONCE did anyone ask me why I act the way I do. There are plenty of people out there “nicer” than me – so to wait for someone to say: “hey there is something different about you” I could be waiting a long time. The point is that we should be ACTIVELY proclaiming the gospel – not waiting for someone to ask us.

    If you don’t want to use a bullhorn or microphone – no problemo – I personally recommend one 2 one conversations. That way it’s not just preaching, you actually can reason with that other person.

    I think you get the point in Steve’s message (don’t you?)
    The point is that we should be actively involved in evangelism – which means: handing out tracts, speaking to people one 2 one, and yes even getting up on that soap box from time to time if God calls you to do that.

    There are too many so called Christians that don’t share their faith at all – as in 0% of the time. They all have different excuses – sorry I meant to say “reasons’ for it am sure. I used to be one of those. Used to say it wasn’t my gift to evangelize. Needless to say God removed that thought from my head pretty quickly and made me realize there is nothing more important than to reach as many as we possibly can while we still have time.

    Jesus said: the fields are ripe and ready for harvest.
    He also said: GO into all the world and preach the Gospel.

    I forget the exact quote but I believe it was Spurgeon who said: I rather be a battle ship stationed at the gates of Hell, than to be a pleasure cruise on the way to heaven.

    So I ask you Bizzle are you on that pleasure cruise ship – living comfortable Christianity? Or are you actively engaged in seeking and saving that which is lost? Only you can answer that – and I am not trying to condemn you. God will bring that conviction directly to you if you could be doing more for HIS Kingdom and HIS glory. When we get to Heaven you want to hear the words: well done my good and faithful servant.

  12. “Atheists, would this make any difference to you at all that a Christian was just a quiet example and never preached to you?”

    Steve, this question is bothering me. Hadn’t you said that you share your faith because you believe you are called to and that it’s really God that changes hearts – not preaching styles? Does it really matter that Bizzle shares his faith in a less showy way than some others? Doesn’t God choose who He will choose regardless of (and sometimes in spite of) the messenger? Doesn’t He separate the goats from the sheep?

    Further – we may have differing views on what a ‘quiet example’ means. I don’t take this to mean a Christian that hides their belief or never talks about their faith. For example, I read a couple of Christian blogs, but I also read a some blogs by Christians. I would put the later in the ‘quiet example’ class. They don’t hide their Christianity – far from it. But they don’t preach either.

  13. Dennis,

    Don’t know where you live, but where I live, robberies are an every day occurrence and I hear gunshots daily. People treat strangers with suspicion and you hardly see anyone outside. The simple fact that I act the way I do and show people kindness and compassion without treating them as a criminal, believe it or not, gets people to ask why I do act that way.

    Do you honestly tell everyone you come into contact with about Jesus? The policeman who pulls you over? The man who takes your order at McDonald’s? The one who hounds you in the mall asking if you’re interested in bath fitter or new windows?

  14. I was just in my company’s break room, scrubbing the disgusting microwaves which I did NOT defile, and wondering if anyone would come to repentance & faith in Jesus Christ by my “niceness” ?

    Just shining my light…

  15. “I think you get the point in Steve’s message (don’t you?)
    The point is that we should be actively involved in evangelism – which means: handing out tracts, speaking to people one 2 one, and yes even getting up on that soap box from time to time if God calls you to do that.”

    I think at least one of us is missing Bizzle’s point (I realize I may be off, too). He speaks one 2 one with unbelievers, but God doesn’t call him up to the soap box. Are you saying he’s wrong? And why the emphasis on tracts? Aren’t they merely an aid, a tool? When did evangelize come to mean ‘you must hand out tracts.’

    (Completely off topic side-note – second favorite Discworld name: Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets)

    • This isn’t a criticism of Bizzle unless all he does is live the life without talking about Christ. Doing both is best:Live the life and speak about faith, too. True, not everyone is called to stand on the box. My wife would never do that. So perdita, you and I are in agreement on all your comments in this post.

      Of course, you know i post these types of articles to elicit all kinds of opinions.

      Bizzle, I’m glad you speak and live it! Good job!

    • This isn’t a criticism of Bizzle unless all he does is live the life without talking about Christ. Doing both is best:Live the life and speak about faith, too. True, not everyone is called to stand on the box. My wife would never do that. So perdita, you and I are in agreement on all your comments in this post. 🙂

      Of course, you know i post these types of articles to elicit all kinds of opinions.

      Bizzle, I’m glad you speak and live it! Good job!

  16. Hi Bizzle

    First of all I would like to also say that I am certainly not trying to criticize you.

    I am blessed to live in Sunny California where we don’t have much violent crime. My wife and myself have jumped on the Metro from time to time and cruised through some of the less desirable areas in LA (compton, etc) and shared the gospel with anyone and everyone that will listen or is open to a conversation. We have gone down to skid row and handed out food, along with tracts, etc. So yes I can say I have been in areas that might not have been the safest – but God has always had my back!

    And you are correct that not everyone I come into contact with gets told about Jesus. However I do try as much as possible to do just that.

    I guess the point of Steve’s post was do we share the gospel by just living it or by speaking it? The obvious response would be BOTH!

    God Bless.

  17. “So perdita, you and I are in agreement on all your comments in this post.”

    Except I don’t think any of that is true. But I do want to make sure I’m not misunderstanding or misrepresenting your position.

    “This isn’t a criticism of Bizzle unless all he does is live the life without talking about Christ.”

    Cool.

    **

    So, for purposes of bringing others to Christ, ‘living the life’ is just as ineffective as preaching. 😉

  18. Dennis,

    I appreciate you clarifying your comments. It appeared different than intended, at least to me.

  19. This is has been a great blog! I personally struggle with both speaking and living the walk of a disciple of Jesus Christ. But speaking for me is always a struggle because I am just a quite guy. Here’s the rundown on my witnessing areas:

    On the street: I don’t have any problem preaching the gospel in this setting both speaking and living it (living it of course is more limited because you meet people only for a moment, but it is still important). Handing out tracts, 1-2-1’s and open-air preaching though a struggle have all been something I have done with God’s help. Sadly where I live now street preaching is very limited. Though God is showing me some interesting ideas on being able to accomplish this.

    Inside Retail stores, restaurants and other stores: These places are a struggle for me in speaking about the gospel. Just even handing a tract out is a struggle for me. God lead me and help me!

    On the job: This is another area that is hard to speak in. Many of the people I work with know that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, but I have not got to speak to them mainly because of time issues. I don’t work at my job very long so I don’t get to take breaks with my co-workers. I was able to hand out the dvd “The Greatest Gamble” to my boss and a few others but besides that I have not spoken the gospel to the people I work with. I continue to pray that doors would open for this opportunity.

    Family and Friends: I really haven’t had a problem witnessing to family and friends. I haven’t got to speak to them as much face-to-face, but I have been able to use tracts and other forms of communication to present the gospel to them.

    I know that I have much to learn and much to grow in. I want to speak the gospel more, along with living it better and better with Jesus’ help. I pray that I would be evermore conformed to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

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