Switching on the light
One of the most well-known and often-quoted passages of Scripture came from the mouth of Jesus in Matthew 28, when He said to go into all the world and make disciples. Its context, in our modern-day usage, is evangelism, with an emphasis on going; and yet, for various reasons, we Christ-followers have a hard time on the ‘go.’ We love to talk about it, but when it comes to acting on it, we just can’t seem to get on board. The general opinion is that we are too scared of rejection; I’m guilty of this—before I joined OM I had only done evangelism once before in my life. But rejection is an inevitable outcome of evangelism. Jesus Himself preached to thousands in His three years of ministry and after He ascended to heaven in Acts 1 His number of followers is recorded at 120. Plenty of people rejected Christ Himself and so we can expect they will reject us too.
One of the first things I did when I joined OM was the Africa Trek, a three-month missions discipleship programme that took me and 17 others through Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. Before we set off on our journey, we spent two weeks in South Africa covering the basics of the Christian faith and missions involvement. Topics included faith and the Christian life and our relationship to others through evangelism — specifically in the context of international missions.
During this time of discipleship training we went to a nearby mall for some evangelism — the prospect of which terrified me seeing as how I wasn’t exactly a proficient evangelist. I’m not one to walk up to strangers and talk about anything, let alone a topic that could potentially leave the other person laughing and calling me a weirdo.
But before we went out, we discussed John 6:44 and its relationship to evangelism: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day (NIV).”
Our Trek Leader relieved me of an incredible pressure when he reminded us that the work of saving people is God’s business, not ours. We don’t have to carry the burden of drawing people to God; that’s something only He can do.
Instead, my leader explained to us the concept of “switching on the light”—an idea related to the fact that moths are drawn to light, whereas cockroaches run away from it.
“Your job is simply to switch on the light of the Gospel,” he told us. “Those who are moths will be drawn to the light, while the cockroaches will run away from it.”
It completely redefined the way I viewed evangelism. Whereas I used to think that evangelism was about converting people (thus putting incredible pressure on the evangelist to convince people of the truth), now I see the act of sharing the Gospel as a much simpler process: just switch on the light. See who God draws, and who He doesn’t. And the concept of switching on the light doesn’t necessarily mean going out to talk with people in the traditional sense of evangelism. It’s something you can do right in your own home, having neighbours or unsaved family over for a meal.
After spending the day in the mall, the next opportunity I had to evangelize was more than a month later in Zambia when we went door-to-door with the Gospel. And yes, at first it was intimidating, but as the Trek continued, I grew more comfortable with it. Like anything else we do in life, the more often you switch on the light, the more natural it becomes. (That’s not to say it’s always—or even usually—easy; I’ve had to continue to dig deeper into God’s Word so that I can approach anyone in any situation to switch on the light.)
God hasn’t asked you to save people. He has only asked you to faithfully tell people about His good news, and trust Him to use your words however He chooses.