By Stephen L France
…and the Irony of Spiritual Warfare in Evangelism.
When I returned from the British Virgin Islands on December 22, 2014, little did I know that I would come to know God, because it certainly wasn’t in my plan…
Trusting someone I can’t see
In short, my decision—which didn’t feel like much of a choice at all—happened like this:
- I was invited to dinner by my friend and her friends. I was subsequently asked if I would like to join them at Emmanuel Evangelical Church (EEC)
- I visited EEC with the intention of a single day trip—a fun day out—in respect of my friend’s new faith. In my mind, I had no intention of returning to the church a second time
- My friend then re-introduced the Bible to me with the proposal that it’s the best-seller of all time. She explained that it’s the original source for all new-age, motivational ideas. I was advised to read the New Testament to understand Christianity – I declined. I decided to read about God the Father in the Old Testament, the difficult part of the Bible where there are many actions that are considered dubious and quite horrific by a layman’s perception
- Reaching halfway through the OT—and later completing a reading of the Bible—I knew that this content was the full truth about life. It was real and I’d been living a lie
Talking about my ‘invisible’ friend with non-believer friends
Over the last year and a half, I’ve been trying to reach a close friend of mine about Christianity, expecting him to react the way I did to the notion of faith.
I have explained many teachings within faith to him using rational breakdowns and logical deduction, unpacking the wisdom and practical applications of God’s ways.
Recently, he said something to me and I responded with an answer that not only unveils my trust in God, but also invokes a powerful silence in the secular world.
‘People who are of faith ‘need’ or ‘want’ it,’ he said. ‘It’s a choice and it’s their experience. Not my experience.’
‘So do you think I wanted this?’ I said.
‘No,’ he replied.
‘So do you think I needed this?’ I said.
‘Yes,’ he replied.
‘I never needed or wanted this,’ I said.
Now keep in mind, by ‘need’ he means it in the human choice-making way like needing a drink on a Friday night after a hard week at work, or needing to improve in one’s career to make more money; this is not the universal sense that we as Christians know – the fact that everyone in the world needs God. Effectively, he’s saying that I’m weak and need faith to keep me going in comparison to going on my own willpower (he’s actually right but I will explain that later).
I then said something to him regarding my trust in God, that created silence. Keep in mind, prior to faith, I spent five years living in a sex-rampant, holiday location:
‘Do you think I wanted or needed to be celibate for the past year and a half?’
At the time of my choice to follow God, I was in no way weak-willed, impressionable, or vulnerable to any old promise of fulfilment that came my way. In fact, my mind was in a darker place at the beginning of 2015 than I think anyone would’ve noticed. There was nothing to justify turning to faith from what I’d seen in the previous five years while I was abroad.
In choosing God, I made an informed decision, knowing that it was going to cost me in surrendering pleasures that the world promotes as acceptable. I wasn’t actively looking for God or to give up hedonism; therefore, I find it more accurate to say that God was seeking me. At this point it became apparent to me that everyone in the world needs God, because if we don’t have him, we will chase temporary fixes in everything else for the rest of our days. This is best explained in 2 Corinthians 12:9 – 11 ESV
The great irony in all this
The Bible declares that people will not listen to or understand the nature of God no matter what words they hear or wonders they behold, because their minds and hearts need to be opened by the Spirit, exemplified in Luke 24:45 ESV and 1 Corinthians 2: 4 – 5 ESV.
This is the great irony.
Although the person I’m evangelising to does not believe in God, his rejection of Jesus displays the spiritual warfare we are so aware of – namely that there is a spiritual force blocking him from absorbing the Word. He hears my explanations and accepts them on a logical, mental level, like when I explain why it’s better to be a humble man than a prideful one, despite what the world feeds us about being proud, independent people; he even goes as far as to admit that there is a spiritual world; nevertheless, he still states he doesn’t ‘need’ God.
In the various social gatherings I’ve attended over the past year and a half, I’ve talked about God and sometimes received laughter or loss of respect. But the question is always this: do I trust God and speak for my ‘invisible’ father in Heaven, or appease my friends and acquaintances, remaining silent about my faith?
There is a verse from Paul in Romans which actually quells the idea of the invisibility of God:
‘For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.’ Romans 1:20
The same Godly Father who created the spiritual realm, formed the physical world and it’s the beauty of our world that shows God’s nature and characteristics. I recommend the following video for proof of this verse:
How have your evangelism experiences been with your friends and family?