When I was in my early twenties, I took on mentoring a student (let's call him Jon). Jon was in his final year of University, and most of what we talked about was how his devotional life was faring during the pressures of finals. One evening, however, he asked me for my opinion - should he start thinking about proposing to his girlfriend? I hadn't talked out that kind of question before, and it took me quite a while before I eventually thought of a response I was happy with. My question to him was, "tell me all of the reasons why you like her". Jon paused, looked a little embarrassed, and finally came out with a rather unconvincing "well, I really like spending time with her".
So what does this have to do with evangelism? In the last twelve months I've found myself talking with people who don't know Jesus far more than in any previous year - from praying with students at Freshers' Fairs to getting started with The Turning, I've been involved in all kinds of conversations, from straight presentations of the Gospel, to discussions around finding purpose, to the uniqueness of Christ-like forgiveness. What I've found in these conversations is that as I have tried to find ways to articulate truths about God, I have ended up appreciating those truths far more. Jon struggled to explain to me why his girlfriend was an amazing person: how do we fare if we have an opportunity to explain to somebody why Jesus is so wonderful? The many conversations I've had with non-Christians recently have pushed me to think about why Jesus is Good News to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, and that reflection has deepened my understanding of and love for God. I hope that what I've shared has been good for those who've heard it; but without a doubt, the process has been really good for me!
Spending time talking to people who don't know Jesus has also pushed me into prayer in a whole new way. When I meet with someone within the Church, I can slip into thinking that if I don't have something valuable to share about God, there will always be another day - and besides, they may well share something that leads us both deeper with God. When I meet with a non-Christian, I know that in most cases if there's going to be truth about Jesus impacting us, it's going to have to come through me. The weight of that responsibility gets me praying with a newfound fervour that I would be listening to the Spirit and overflowing with truth!
We share the Gospel out of love for God and for people who don't know the Good News - that is always our primary motivation. However, what I'm coming to realise is that when we learn to articulate the Gospel in all its fullness, we also re-evangelise ourselves, and God's truth goes deeper into our hearts and understanding!