Ultimately, evangelism is not about looking to heaven and to the afterlife as the cure for all of life’s problems. The central message of evangelism must not be “Get right with God because then eternity will be grand.” While the Gospel contains truth about heaven and eternity, it also focuses on life here on earth.
The Truth of the Gospel
The Gospel contains numerous truths about loving one another, taking care of our neighbor, looking after our family, and serving those in need. If we are ignoring these aspects of the Gospel, we are not living or obeying the entire Gospel, but are instead using the hope of heaven as a way to escape the responsibilities of life on earth.
In his book Naming the Powers, Walter Wink put it this way:
Christian evangelism has all too often been wedded to a politics of the status quo and merely serves to relieve stress by displacing hope to an afterlife and ignoring the causes of oppression.
Rather than spending all our time singing songs, reading books, and gazing up into the sky waiting for Jesus to return in the clouds, we must begin looking out into the lives of the people around us, looking for ways to love, serve, and help them with their life here and now.
Some of the central goals and values of the Gospel are peace, mercy, justice, and compassion, all of which are not only to be achieved in eternity, but right here, right now, on earth. So we must not sit idly around twiddling our thumbs while we wait for Jesus to return and set all things straight. We must anticipate His future rule and reign by trying to restore righteousness here and now. We look toward the future reign of God on earth by trying to live out the reign of God here and now. And so we can pray with Jesus, “Thy kingdom come (now), thy will be done (now), on earth (now) as it is in heaven (now).”
The Gospel and Others
So do you want to evangelize and share the Gospel with others? Certainly we must tell others about what Jesus has done in the past, through His life, death, and resurrection, and how this affects our future in eternity.
But we must also live out the truths of the Gospel in our present, showing love, mercy, and grace to others, working to bring freedom to the oppressed, liberty to those in bondage, healing to the brokenhearted, and hope for those in despair. These are central truths of the Gospel and why Jesus came (cf. Luke 4:17-21). As we follow Jesus in living the Gospel, our evangelistic efforts will be more than words, and will include sacrificial acts of love and service.
The goal of the gospel and evangelism is not just heaven, but is also about loving and serving others, right here, right now, on earth, in our lives. Until we learn to love and serve others, we have not begun to evangelize.