In April 2013, Americans were shocked to learn of the horrific terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon. Several people lost their lives and over 100 people were injured. It appeared to be another senseless act of violence that had many in the Boston area seeking answers to serious questions.
When I learned of this great disaster, one of the first questions I asked myself was, “How many Christians in Boston shared the gospel with those young men?”
The implication is clear: if virtually no genuine, Christian witness ever reached them (which is a real possibility), it is fairly accurate to say that the evangelistic neglect indirectly contributed to this attack. How can I say that? The more personal evangelism was directed at the perpetrators, the more they would have been exposed to the gospel. The more they knew of the gospel, the greater the chances that they may have become followers of Christ. If they would have become followers of Christ, the marathon bombing would have been nonexistent.
I know the aforementioned solution sounds simplistic, but it is thoroughly biblical. Yes, Scripture makes it abundantly clear that not everyone who hears the gospel will respond positively to its demands (see Acts 13:46; 17:32). Nevertheless, we do not know who will and who will not receive Christ as Lord and Savior upon hearing the message of the cross.
Just because some will not embrace it does not mean that evangelism should be minimized. We cannot afford to underestimate the urgency of spreading the gospel when we know that countless people have been touched by its power. Who knows; maybe if the Christians in Boston were serious about evangelism (and I do not know if they are or not), the marathon tragedy may have been utterly prevented. Unfortunately, we will never know.
Most Christians are familiar with the Great Commission: Jesus’s statements in Matthew 28:19-20 wherein He commanded His followers to go and make disciples. But do we actually take this ‘command’ seriously? Are we as fervent as we should be in sharing the gospel with the people we encounter? We would agree that it is not enough to merely affirm our commitment to the Great Commission while simultaneously showing no evidence of evangelistic zeal. Regrettably, this has become the norm for many Christians.
We must examine our evangelistic tendencies and pray that God will help us to “…do the work of an evangelist…” (2 Tim. 4:5)
Adapted from the book Gospel Urgency! The Power and Necessity of Our Evangelism.