So far, in the evangelism process with our neighbors, we have: introduced ourselves, built a rapport, engaged them, and expressed our faith to them. A common theme that we have established among the first four steps is how we should be trying to separate ourselves from the rest of the encounters they make daily. This is not to be fake, disingenuous, or to have ulterior motives. Simply put, this is to show them there is something different about us because we are Christians. Is this not precisely what we are called to be? Different? It has become anti-culture to randomly introduce yourself, to build a rapport, to engage someone, or to express faith with someone. When we devote ourselves to truly accomplishing steps one through four, our neighbors will desire to know why it is we are different. However, the journey does not end there. In fact, we are not even close.
It is one thing to show someone we are different from our words… it is an entirely different thing to set ourselves apart with our actions. While it is true that during the rapport phase and engage phase, we are using action… to our neighbor, it may not seem so apparent. The next step in the process validates all four steps before it. After we come to them through the first four steps, then it is time to SERVE them. Our neighbors know the difference between someone who, “Talks the talk,” and someone who, “Walks the walk.” When all we do is talk about things, we can come across to our neighbors as the fake or disingenuous person we had no intention of becoming. It is vitally important to the evangelism process to prove our talk by our walk. When we walk in the same manner that we talk, that is when we become like the disciples and apostles of the first century. More than that, when we walk in the same manner that we talk, that is when we become like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ entire life was a life of servitude. He served His apostles (John 13:14). He served strangers (Matthew 14:19-21; Matthew 15:34-39). He served the people who hated Him (Luke 6:35). He served the Kingdom to come (Ephesians 5:25). He served His purpose (John 19:30). Most of all, He served His Father, who sent Him (John 17:4). We know that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), but according to Mark 10:45, Jesus also came to serve. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”Not only that, but He tells his followers, “The greatest among you shall be your servant,” Matthew 23:11. This was not a message His apostles could easily forget (especially after the washing of feet in John 13). In fact, during this account, Jesus even says, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you,” John 13:15.
So, we know that Jesus’ entire life was in service to everyone around Him, and we know that His apostles and disciples took that example and continued in His footsteps. Therefore, we see the pattern that has been set before us. What we do with that knowledge defines us as either those who, “Talk the talk,” or those who, “Walk the walk.” Jesus expects us to do as He did, or He would not have taken the time to tell us to do so explicitly. Walking the walk is what separated Christ and His followers from the other religious leaders in the New Testament. The Pharisees were only willing to “Talk the talk.” Jesus and His followers devoted themselves to backing up their words with service and actions. This is what separated them from other “religious” leaders, and it is the very same thing that will separate us from the other encounters our neighbors make each day.
Once we have completed steps one through four, the best way to prove to our neighbor that we are REAL is to serve them. This service does not necessarily even require a huge grand act. Simple acts of service can be enough to show a non-believer that we are not full of hot air, but that Christianity and faith are things we are serious about. All we are trying to do in step five is to demonstrate our faith through service. Helping our next-door neighbor with a project, or paying for our co-worker’s lunch, or offering our classmate a ride somewhere, or simply being there for a friend in a time of need… these are the things that will show our neighbor we care about their day-to-day. Not only that we care, but also that we are willing to go above and beyond to ensure their well-being!
Finding intentional and purposeful ways to serve our neighbors will lead to their greater appreciation for our faith. This is what will show them our faith is not just a bunch of words. Instead, our works act out our spoken faith. Unless our WORKS supplement our WORDS, our words are useless. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead,” James 2:17. It is of the utmost importance that we TELL our neighbors about Jesus. However, it is even more essential to SHOW Jesus to our neighbors. When we serve, we become the very hands and feet of our Lord, and thereby show Jesus to them.
There is no one end-all-be-all way to serve your neighbor. If we have completed the rapport and engage steps correctly, then we will probably know exactly what our specific neighbor needs. Once we identify what that need is, we should serve them to the best of our ability. We should treat our neighbors (through service) the same way we want to be treated by others. Serve your neighbor the same way you would want to be served. The chances are, if you would appreciate and enjoy that act of service, they would probably be grateful for it too. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, and one of the greatest tools He used to save the lost was through SERVICE. May we all dedicate ourselves to following the example of the master evangelist, Jesus Christ!
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism