For more on this, listen to this helpful session:
I remember it well, the moment when I was slightly too honest and nearly ruined my marriage.
It had been a fairly normal day until then, in fact abnormal, as I’d been a better than average husband for most of the afternoon. No, seriously. I know. I’d cleaned the kitchen, AND hoovered, AND put the bins out. Lads on tour. What a time to be alive.
When Ruth came home, though, something went wrong. She. Didn’t. Instantly. Notice.
She didn’t fall down on the floor in adoration to the Husband Most High. Bad wife, I thought, tut tut.
So taking matters into my own hands, I decided it was the time to announce my achievements. “Have you not noticed my hard work today?”, I chirped, or something equally self-involved. “I don’t know why I bother,” I continued, hideously, “I only did it so you’d be happy with me.” Ouch.
And as it slipped out the mouth, and my lovely wife looked at me, I realised what had happened.
Sure my actions looked good. The cleaning had been done. I had done something worthwhile. But man, my motivations were all over the place. In fact, my good deed for my wife had turned out to not be for my wife at all. I didn’t do it out of love. I did it for me, effectively saying “I think I need to buy your affection with hoovering, now I’ve done it, so worship me”. Not a good line. Not a good day. And actually, in the end, not a good deed. Praise God for grace and a kind wife.
What does this incident teach us? This: that we can do the right thing in life, but for a whole load of wrong reasons. We can, in the short term at least, get the external stuff looking good and shiny, do some stuff that is good to do, but with poor motivation, it’ll only be short-lived. It’ll be guilt-driven. Self-serving. And it’ll fizzle out.
It’s the same with evangelism right? And the same with motivating our CU. We know we’re to be an outward, missional community, sharing the good news of Jesus with our friends. We know we don’t want to be one of those CUs that doesn’t share the gospel, or that is just a social club, and as leaders, we rightly see it as our responsibility to motivate others. This bit is true. It IS our responsibility, our primary responsibility in our roles as leaders, to motivate our members to share Jesus. But I hope my little marriage confession can help you see that how we are motivated to do something is absolutely crucial. Take the Nike slogan and shout it loudly? If not, how should we motivate our CUs?
Well what should motivate my occasional hoovering spree? Not guilt. Not “to do the right thing”. But love! She’s not my boss, she’s my wife. I love my wife. And I like her! She is lovely! And if that’s true, then more and more I’ll serve her gladly, joyfully, naturally, consistently. Not to gain anything myself but because I want to give to her. Genuinely serve her. Not to get anything from her but simply because I love her.
Paul says it’s the same with evangelism.
What got Paul going in evangelism? What got him talking about Jesus? What got him sharing his faith? What gave him the mouth to speak and the courage to go for it?
He sums it up in this simple sentence: “For the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
The love of Christ!
If it was mere duty, he’d hate it. If was from guilt, it would be joyless. If it was even about love for his friends, primarily, he would give up when his friends got rude or unlovely. But it was none of these things. It was the love of Christ!
Being loved by Jesus draws us to respond in love to him. “We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). We all know that from experience. Our hearts are hard but when we hear of Christ’s love, his gritty, self-slaughtering, rugged, compassionate love for us when we were totally helpless, we begin to melt. He saw your worst sins, he knows your deepest insecurities, the hidden darkness, the lies you’ve told this week to make yourself look more respectable, he sees it all, and knowing it all, he bled out for you because his heart wells with love for you. What a love.
And so in response, we love him! Not because we have to but because he’s lovely.
THAT’s how you motivate people to do evangelism. We show people the love of Christ. In turn we’ll love him more, and we’ll speak, because we speak about what we love, don’t we? As Jesus said:
Notice how I’ve talked about Ruth a lot (a sickening amount, no doubt). It’s because I love her. “Did you see the football!?” is because we love football. “Game of Thrones is back!!!!” is because we love Game of Thrones. We speak about what we love.
And so that’s how you motivate a CU.
You seek to develop in them an ever-new and ever-real awareness of the love of Jesus for them. They will be drawn to love him in response. And they’ll speak of what they love.
It might take longer, it might not get the instant results that the guilt stick would. But I tell you what, one minute of hoovering done out of love is worth twenty times more than a year’s worth of chores done with a selfish heart.
Of course we need to call people to share their faith, to be brave, we need to share stories of God at work to inspire, give training to equip, and pray for boldness, but central to a Christian Union must not be merely “LET’S DO EVANGELISM” but “JESUS IS WONDERFUL, so let’s share him”.
So, how will you help your CU be absolutely thrilled with Christ’s love for them?
How will you avoid your talks and notices being “SO DO IT OR ELSE”, but calling people to share the love that Christ has for them?
How will you make sure your main emphasis in your own relationship with God is not “I must do these things as a CU leader” but “you are lovely God, and wonderful, and I love you”?