When people look at me, what do they see? When people look at you, what do they see? I hope they see the Gospel.
John 13:34-35 has been weighing on me lately. In this passage, Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (ESV)
During His last night with His disciples, Jesus gave this three-fold command. He tells them "to love one another" three times. Our Lord was clearly trying to make a point.
First, Jesus gives the command to love one another. Then, He refines this by telling them to love one another as He has loved them. This is staggering considering that He was about to head to the cross. Finally, Jesus says that if they love one another as He has loved them, then all people will know that they are His disciples.
This is extremely important for evangelism. Jesus makes it clear that our love for one another will cause others to know that we follow Him. This, then, will open up a door to share the Gospel message. If people see that we are different (because we are followers of Christ), then they may be interested in why we believe and live differently than the world does.
Before Jesus ever gave this command to His disciples, he lived it out. For example, in Matthew 4:23, we read, "And he (Jesus) went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people."
Matthew 9:35 tells us, "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction."
The pattern that Jesus gave was of loving service (healing) that accompanied His proclamation of and teaching of the Gospel. People saw His love, and thus were willing to listen to His message.
So when people see me, do they see Christ? Do they see the Gospel? I'm afraid that most of the time they do not. What do they see? Well, they probably see someone that they would label a "good person" by the world's standards because I treat my family decently, go to church, and don't drink alcohol or smoke. However, that is not going to cause the world to sit up and take notice.
In the USA, many of our current church evangelism strategies teach us how to proclaim the gospel by telling our stories and quoting some scripture. I see nothing wrong with this, but if it is not accompanied by loving service then it will likely not lead to a person being willing to listen to a Gospel presentation. This may be why door-to-door evangelism is so ineffective.
So, how can the world see the Gospel in me? It is simple really - by loving others. When I use the word "love" here, I am not employing the modern American meaning of some sort of warm feeling. Rather, in the bible, love is clearly an action that shows itself in service toward others. That said, I can cause others to see the Gospel in me by showing love through serving them.
This is not complicated. We all have people in our neighborhoods that need help. We should help because it is the right thing to do. But we should also hope and pray that the service we render will cause non-Christians to ask why we have done so.
Then they will do more than see the Gospel; they will also get a chance to hear it.