Check out other speakers at the Amplify Evangelism conference July 28-30, 2016, at Wheaton College.
My husband and I love the outdoors. Whether it be walking on the beach or hiking in the mountains, we love being surrounded by God’s magnificent creation. When I am immersed in that beauty, I’m reminded that creation is never an afterthought in Christian faith; it is foundational. All else moves outward from there.
Early on in my ministry, as I found myself more and more drawn to the work of evangelism, I thought it was all about following the directive of Jesus—go, make disciples. Over time, however, I’ve come to realize that the roots of evangelism go much deeper than that.
Don’t worry, I still believe in following the directives of Jesus. But evangelism—sharing the Good News of God’s redemptive, healing, life-transforming love—is at its deepest point, rooted in creation itself. God’s act of creating sets the stage for all that follows.
When it comes to evangelism, that idea isn’t always as obvious as it should be. It’s easy to flip things around and think of God as the Redeemer who also creates, rather than as the Creator who also redeems. But that would be a mistake borne of placing ourselves at the center of the universe, rather than the one who truly belongs there—God.
God creates. God redeems. Christian faith is deepened and enriched when we get the order right. This is especially true in the arena of evangelism, where our focus is often on individuals and our fervent hope that they might come into relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no doubt this is an extremely important focus. Yet something significant is lost when the lens of our spiritual life remains set on zoom, rather than wide angle.
The faith we receive when we encounter Jesus Christ is faith in a Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Of course, the second Person of the Trinity is vital; but our creeds remind us of the order: We believe in the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Starting there widens the scope of redemption considerably—it is indeed Good News for all creation.
As we reach out to others on behalf of Jesus Christ, we would do well to remember that sin (our need for redemption) is not the reason for God’s grace. God’s grace is part of God’s very nature. It was alive and active within our Triune God and bore creation into existence long before sin entered the picture. And it will abound overwhelmingly, long after sin has been eliminated and God’s new creation is experienced in all its fullness.