The joy of evangelism
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
In his posthumously published work Letters to Malcolm, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
Joy is experienced in virtually limitless ways. A child’s first memorable experience at the ocean. A senior adult’s conversation with a dear friend over tea. Laughing, singing, crying and shrieking are all ways to express joy.
True joy transcends circumstances. It has a deep anchor and is not dependent upon temporal and fleeting feelings.
There are few things in this world that awaken joy like seeing someone cross from death to life after hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle John tells us what is behind communicating this good news: The joy of communion with the life of God.
In 1 John 1:1-4, the apostle opens by speaking of the life of God. It was “from the beginning,” meaning that it has existed since before the foundations of the earth.
John goes on to elaborate on this life. They had heard of it with their very ears, they had touched it with their very hands and they had looked upon it with their very eyes. How? Because God took on flesh and dwelt among us through the person of His Son, Jesus. This life, this eternal life, was made manifest and revealed to God’s people.
The result of this revelation is stunning. John writes with certainty that they have fellowship with this life through the use of the Greek word koinonia. Koinonia means a “sharing in or a participation with.” John makes the audacious claim that — because of the appearing of the person and work of Jesus — they share and participate in the very life of God that has existed for all eternity.
What does this life consist of? If we take the context seriously, it includes testifying about, proclaiming and sharing this very life with one result in mind — that others would also join in this koinonia.
John then tells us that joy is complete when we give this life away. So, putting everything together, the inner life of God and the life revealed in Jesus is a life of self-giving love. That is the most baseline definition of life and the source of true joy.
Lewis’ claim, if taken into our hearts, should ignite an evangelistic revolution in the 21st-century church, the likes of which has not been seen since the first generation of disciples. We should not need guilt-motivated appeals to “do more” because the motivation of evangelism should be the desire for others to enter into the infinite joy that the evangelist experiences on a daily basis.
Editor's note: Josh Reed serves as senior consultant for Adult Evangelism and Discipleship with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Josh will lead a breakout session at the 2018 Disciple-Making Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at Center Grove Baptist Church in Clemmons titled “Recognizing Opportunities and Turning Conversations.” Learn more and register for the 2018 Disciple-Making Conference by visiting disciplenc.org.