My Idolatry of Evangelism

Its the first of the month. Another post from the archive.

My Idolatry of Evangelism
I have a confession to make. I have made an Idol out of Evangelism. Sin is a two-sided coin with unrighteousness on one side and self righteousness on the other. Idolatry is unrighteous and idolizing evangelism is self righteous. I have taken something good and substituted it for the best. I now see in my life the “fruit” of self righteousness.

One of the “fruits” of self righteousness is my critical spirit. I often look down on others who share the Gospel particularly if they don’t do it the way I do. Now that I stop to think about it I can’t believe I do this. These people often share the Gospel out of much better motives than I do. While they share out of a sincere love, I often share out of selfish ambition and empty conceit. I often fail to share with someone because I am concerned for them but instead just to jack them up with the truth. Do I share out of my passionate love for Jesus or to get to the next seed sower level? In Philippians Paul makes it very clear that we are not to judge other’s motives, but then he says to do nothing out of selfish ambition and to esteem others as being better than myself.

Another fruit of self righteousness is pride and I have that too. I not only actively share my faith obviously putting me in the top 2% of Christians but I also use the law which obviously puts me in the top echelon of that 2%. What rot! The world doesn’t need me any more than it needs another grain of sand at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The world needs Jesus! I will only change the world to the extent that I allow Jesus to shine through me. And right now pride is obscuring the glow. How dare I look down on others because they don’t share their faith! How dare I condescend to those who don’t use the same methods I use.

I shutter to think of what my response would have been to overhearing Jesus share the Gospel with Nicodemus. He didn’t use the law! I must get Jesus a HBKS CD so He can learn how to do it the “correct” way. God forgive me of this pride! How can I get it through my head that I am no better than anyone else, even others who don’t share the Gospel?

Jesus did more than preach the Gospel. He also gave to the poor and healed the sick. I must confess I do very little for the poor. I justify it because I do evangelism. But, pure religion is not sharing the Gospel with everyone I interact with, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Jam 1:27. I have offered up a cheap substitute for the real deal.

Just as Biblical scholarship is no substitute for sharing the Gospel so Evangelism is no substitute for holiness. Evangelism is only a part of holiness. When it becomes an end; it becomes an idol. God wants the whole package, He wants obedience, passionate love and Godly character. Obedience is no more a substitute for love than prayer is a substitute for evangelism. I must have both. Why does my soul not desire God like a deer desires water? Why have my passionate feelings been replaced by empty numbness? I never want to be a husband who loves his wife with his actions but his heart chases after other women. But that is just what I am doing with evangelism. In my actions I share like I am supposed to but my heart has grown cold, I don’t feel the passion of my younger days. I have grown to love something else, evangelism, more than I love Christ. Am I loving evangelism too much? No! I am loving Jesus to little!

My Idolatry of Ray Comfort
I have made an Idol of Ray Comfort. Ray is no Pope, he does not have a monopoly on the truth nor are his words infallible. But why can’t I think of anything that I disagree with him on? Could it be that he only speaks the truth or have I made an idol of him so that I don’t question his words? I am ashamed to admit I eagerly waited in line to get Ray and Kirk’s autograph in my Evidence Bible. Am I no better than a Catholic whose Bible signed by his Pope? Yet, my Bible was signed by my Pope! God have mercy! Some days I spend more time listening to Ray’s Teachings than I do reading the Word of God! When Ray talks about his short comings it makes me swoon just as Catholics swoon when they hear how the Pope goes to confession every week. Ray may be an amazing man of God but he is no substitute for Jesus! Jesus has the words of eternal life, not Ray Comfort. No one can come to the father except through Christ!

My Idolatry of Mark Cahill

In the same way I have made an Idol of Mark Cahill. He is the one who got me started in evangelism and for the longest time I saw him as infallible. I deeply admire his zeal for the lost, his fasting, his holiness and how he treats money like it is not his. I find myself trying to become just like Mark! No! I should be trying to become just like Jesus. Mark, while a great man of God, is a poor substitute for the Lamb who was slain as a substitute for me. I should passionately desire to become just like Jesus, not Mark.

My Idolatry of the GNN
Since joining the GNN, part of me feels like I have finally arrived. The GNN is everything I desired but didn’t have during my first year of sharing the Gospel. But the GNN is only a means not an end to making Jesus happy. The day the GNN became an end, is the day it became an idol.

I am trying to repent from these sins but it is hard. None of the things are inherently bad. It’s like repenting from gluttony (something I also struggle with). Food is not inherently bad, but eating too much of it is sin.

When we hold anything up above Christ that becomes an idol. I am reading the book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deer and in it he talks about how we can make idols of things that are good. Its not that these things, or people, are necessarily bad. But, if I hold them up above Christ, that is bad. There is nothing wrong in admiring God’s handiwork in a lion, but making an idol of a lion is sin. I recommend this book. I thank you for reading this and I thank God for you all.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

9 thoughts on “My Idolatry of Evangelism

  1. I simply had to send a word of encouragement to you. Everything you shared clearly illustrates that God’s Spirit is actively operating in your heart. Do not depair–that is a blessing! You are on the right track. We live in a very confusing time when it comes to the “Christian” culture. Christ is our all-in-all and He is ALL. So much more I would want to say, but I will leave you with this. It is clear–but what you ahred–that God is working in a mighty way in your heart and ssoul and mind. All is well.

    Blessing to You – For His Sake
    D.L. Kane

  2. So my question would be… how are things for you now? 🙂 do you still feel this way & that is why you reposted it, or do you feel that things have changed…

  3. When I moved over to this new blog I collected some of the more popular posts from my old blog and set them to auto post on the first of each month. So there is nothing particularly notable in the timing.

    As for how I am not I don't feel like I am currently idolizing any of the things/people mentioned here. In fact, truth be told, I have swung to far the other way and neglected evangelism too much. The Holy Spirit has been challenging me to be more bold with sharing my faith and I need to obey that call. Hopefully God will lead me to a place of balance and obedience in evangelism.

    -Thomas

  4. Your mother encouraged me to read your blog where you quoted me ("anything worth doing …"). As I told you Sunday, the quote actually came from a good Catholic writer of a past generation, G. K. Chesterton.

    As I was scanning your blogs, I was so pleased to come across this one re: "My idolatry of evangelism." This is very good! I remember being quite concerned for you a couple of years ago when you were passing CD's of Ray Comfort to me. I wouldn't have used the words "idolatry," but I feel that Ray is a bit unbalanced in his use of the law. I don't feel that he is in error, necessarily, but I had deep concerns that a bright young leader like yourself might follow his path too far and end up with a brittle concept of God's love as expressed in Christ.

    With much love to my dear brother,

    –Dan

  5. What I was sort of wondering is if you would be so scathing towards Catholics if you were writing this today. Misrepresenting the truth is not a good way to build dialogue.

  6. Hi Brother,

    I have felt convicted of this lately. Do you think I could talk with you via e-mail about this sometime?

    God bless!

    Neil

Comments are closed.