God is love (1 Peter 4:8) and love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4), so when we approach others, especially individuals who are not yet Christ-followers, we must do so with the patience, love, and grace our Heavenly Father grants us each day.
Recently in our small group, someone shared the story of how at work they include small devotionals (Bible verses) in the paychecks for their employees. This is such a great and impactful gesture to do as a business owner or manager because it expresses to the worker a personalized sense of both concern and gratitude for their contribution to the company’s success. I have so many amazing memories from my time in the Dominican Republic, and one that stands out is the delight we experienced when we included a hand-written note of appreciation in the paychecks of our staff members. To me, it was a novel exercise, but to our team, it was a heartfelt moment that lifted them up both as a collection of peers and as individuals.
My friend from our small group continued with his story about how they had just hired an employee who is Muslim. Given their practice of including devotionals with paychecks, he and his management team did not want to simply assume the new team member would be okay with this. Neither did they want to unilaterally exclude him from the practice. So my friend took it upon himself to have a conversation with this new employee and just ask; ask if it would be okay to include verses from the Christian Bible in his paycheck. He asked if he would be bothered or offended by the practice. My friend showed a genuine concern for his employee, granting him the option to participate (or not) in this company’s practice.
Some segments of our country would hold this up as succumbing to political correctness, and this story would be shared with a certain amount of disdain. Rather, I think it’s the perfect example of evangelism, reflecting God’s love, tenderness, and concern for our well-being. A relationship with Christ is something into which we’re invited, made possible first and foremost by Jesus’ death and resurrection, but also by those who came before us and evangelized the good news of Jesus’ gospel to us. It takes a follower to create a follower, and the great commission commands us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). Sometimes that ‘go’ is as simple as going and asking someone if it’s okay with them to receive a sprinkle of God’s love in their paychecks.
As an aside, another member of our group applauded the gesture, noting how much better our nation would be if everyone would apply a gentle approach to sharing their faith and discussing their differences.
Evangelism is not about Bible-thumping. Evangelism is not about the cliché combination of megaphones, sandwich boards, and vitriolic condemnation. Evangelism is loving a stranger and extending an invitation to something new, an invitation that starts with transformation and leads to eternal salvation. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. And it’s a choice I pray every human being is given the option to make.