But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…
Evangelism has taken on all kinds of forms and methodologies over the decades. From lifestyle evangelism to Way of the Master; from going door to door doing surveys (a personal terrifying favorite of mine when I was in college) to handing out tracts; there have been all kinds of methodologies that have been promoted over the decades. For the most part I have no sense of preference as to what model a person uses. One approach that works well with one person will resonate with some but will not work for others. Everyone is wired differently and what works for extroverts is very hard for introverts to adopt for their approach.
Most people struggle with how to be personally involved in mission. Some are very fearful of what others think, so they usually do nothing. Others will take stabs at creating spiritual conversations with others, but struggle to know how to go about making those transitions. For others, evangelism seems like an activity of meeting quotas and for another it is simply on the check list of things they better do to prove to God (or themselves) that they are on the same page as God.
One of the first things about evangelism, or sharing the good news of the gospel, is the example that God sets for us in Titus 3. We might call it a philosophical approach, or a starting point, in understanding how to begin thinking about connecting with people who are presently separated from the family of God. The statement in Titus 3 is not as much a methodology, but a character driven love for others which opens a whole basket-full of questions that we could discuss. But notice three things about the statement of how God engages this mission of saving broken human beings:
1. God’s approach begins with kindness. The idea here is God’s goodness towards human beings. God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). The kindness of God is what motivates Him to rescue sinful human beings. This is not His judgment, his wrath, or his indignation over the moral corruption of humanity, it is His kindness. The key is that his kindness, like his love, appears or shines. God makes his kindness visible and touches lost people personally.
2. The love of God. Interesting that the text includes both God’s kindness and His love. Similar terms even in its basic root meaning, but this has the idea of friendship love, this is not the word agape love. The picture here is moving alongside people as a friend to help them discover God’s kindness towards them.
3. He saved us. The driving methodology of God is that He saves us and the two undeniable pillars of how He approaches a lost humanity is with His love and kindness. This is not just His attitude or motivation but His methodology. The sacrifice of Christ shows that instead of leading with judging people directly, He shows His kindness by having His Son absorb the punishment humanity deserves. In one sense, God’s first act is to provide protection for humanity from His wrath and judgment, then He extends the invitation to trust the work of His Son in redemption.
One of the ways that ought to shape our approach to those we know is to show His love and kindness. How we demonstrate or reveal that is the key question. But if our approach was to communicate, reveal, or expose people to the kindness and love of God to first protect them from His wrath, and then extend the good news of the gospel, we might find it different than many approaches. This may not be the whole picture, but if we think of it as our starting point with unsaved people, we might find ourselves changing our methods to be more in keeping with God’s approach to saving the lost.
In His grace,