come and see
evangelism doesn’t have to be the world’s greatest sales pitch
For most of my early life, I was an avid reader of collections of Gary Larson’s legendary comic, The Far Side. One of my favorite Far Sides is the one about Ralph Harrison, King of Salespersons, a man seen waving good-bye to several eskimos who just bought his refrigerators.
For most of my early life (shoot, just take out the word “early”) I thought this was what I had to be in order to evangelize people with the Good News about Jesus Christ. I thought I had to be like Ralph Harrison, selling a product to people who don’t need it or don’t want it.
This is what I thought evangelism was: Selling Jesus to people as though I were selling iceboxes to eskimos.
I thought I had to have a ready answer for every possible objection to Jesus. I thought I had to be able to prove that the Bible is reliable, that creation happened ex nihilo, that miracles happened and still happen, and that believing in Jesus was the best possible thing anyone could possibly want to do. Again, I thought I had to be Ralph Harrison, King of Salespersons.
However, I have had a new thought in recent days. If I think I have to be a great salesmen, it means a couple of things. One, I don’t think my product is very good. Or, I don’t think people need or want my product. All of which diminishes Jesus, a “product” that is King of the Universe and what everyone needs.
I recently taught at my high school youth group on the story of Jesus calling Philip and Nathanael to be his disciples. Jesus called Philip and since Philip apparently had nothing better going on, dropped everything and followed his new rabbi, Jesus. Then Philip finds his buddy Nathanael and tells him he thinks this new rabbi he just started following could be the promised Messiah. When he tells Nathanael that it’s Jesus from Nazareth, Nathanael scoffs and says that nothing good ever came from Nazareth. (Being from Nazareth apparently is like being from Iowa today.) Nathanael is quite skeptical that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
Does Philip launch into the greatest sales pitch of all time? Does he present The Four Spiritual Laws? Does he give him a copy of More than a Carpenter?
No. He says, “Come and see.”
Come and see.
A few months ago, my wife and I needed to buy a new car. We needed a van and targeted the Toyota Sienna. We found one online at a local dealership. We test drove it. It drove great. Everything worked. It was clean and in immaculate shape. The price was right. It was exactly what we wanted at the price we wanted it. Anyone could have sold us that car. All we needed to do was to come and see it. The car sold itself.
Philip brings Nathanael to meet Jesus, Jesus blows his mind by telling him things about himself he couldn’t possibly know, Nathanael starts following Jesus. Jesus sold himself.
If Jesus is what people are looking for, then all we have to do is invite them to come and see him.
If people are looking for Jesus, we don’t have to be Ralph Harrison, King of Salespersons to get them to believe in him. All we have to do is invite them to come and see. Jesus, like that Toyota Sienna my wife and I purchased, can handle the rest.