Frequently my pastor uses a term, namely “marketplace evangelism.” The first time I heard it used, I believe, was last summer. I thought to myself, “What could he possibly mean by such a phrase?”
This phrase, indeed, conjures up some interesting images. It may bring to mind someone dressed in a long black robes in the marketplace, in a crowded store full of shoppers, with signs saying, “The end is near. Repent or you will burn in Hell.” I don’t think that is quite what Pastor had in mind when he used that phrase. Most certainly not. Try that approach at your local Meijer’s or 7-Eleven. The manager of those stores are subject to call the Cops on you to chase you right out of their place of business, and you would probably never be allowed back into that store again.
As I speak to you from the subject of Marketplace Evangelism today, please bear a scripture in mind: Acts 1: 8, in which it says,”…and you will be My witnesses, from Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” in other words, not only are we to go out into all the world and preach the Word (Mark 16: 15), but we are to also BE the Word. We are to be a “living epistle read by men.” That means that wherever we go, our character should exemplify Christ. Whether we are on our job, in school, or around our neighbourhood, we are to exemplify Christ. We must do so in such a way that people are drawn to us, or begin to ask questions about why we are so different from others that they see around them on a daily basis.
For example, we are to be witnesses on our job. Let’s say that you work in a factory. The boss has instructed you that you have a half an hour break. That does not give you a lot of time. So you go to the McDonald’s down the street to have lunch. In and of itself, that is cool. But instead of coming back at 12: 30 p.m. as the supervisor has asked–you stroll back in there at 12: 45 p.m., as if nothing has happened. Now you don’t necessarily lose your job over it. You don’t get so much as a writeup.
But one of your co-workers notices, and they ask you. “You call yourself a Christian, right? I seem to notice, you came in 15 minutes late when you know as well as everyone else that our return time is at 12: 30. Why?” Dumbfounded, you answer, “Well, I was ministering to someone.” Maybe you should have worried about “ministering” to your employer by returning from break on time. In this scenario, you come off looking like a hypocrite, not the Saint of God that Christ has called you to be.
Let me challenge you once again in the workplace. Your boss finds himself under a tremendous amount of pressure. These are hard economic times. Your supervisor is the founder and principal of the school in which you are the office secretary. You have accumulated a lot of favour with that principal. He owes the water company, the light company, and the phone company. Your boss, in a short missive to you he lays on your desk, tells you: “If anyone calls today, you are to tell them I am out of town today. Furthermore, do not disturb me about anything today. I have chosen today to hide in my office and to sleep.” What will be your response? Afraid of losing your job, will you lie for this principal? What will you do?
To you teenagers: What will you do the next time you receive a juicy tidbit of gossip about one of your classmates? You want to be part of what Dobie Gray has called the “In-crowd.” So you hear one of your “friends” tell you the juicy rumour about Devontay–that he is gay. What are you going to do? Are you going to go, “Well tell me more?” Or are you going to say, “Get thee behind me Satan. I am a born-again believer, and a Saint of God, and I tell you I do not want to hear it. I am not a garbage can. Do not trash talk another student around me. Take your trash somewhere else!”
Moreover, an hour later, you meet some of the same friends at lunch. They are all talking about sex and sexual conquests. What are you going to do? Are you going to try to laugh to blend in with them, or are you going to stand up and let them know that you believe that they are behaving inappropriately?
Or how about on your way home from school or work, yes, right in your neighbourhood? Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic. Are you going to flip them one, or are you going to take it in stride? What does Romans 12: 2 say? It says that we are not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may be able to PROVE what that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is.”
So–are you someone who claims to be walking in the Way of God, who seeks to do the Will of God? If your answer is yes, then you must be able to prove it with your life. The music you listen to, the way you speak, breathe, eat, walk, and wear your clothes needs to indicate a changed life.
The whole principle of Marketplace Evangelism is that not only must we live Holy so that we may make it to Heaven–but we must also live Holy for the sake of others. There are people out there who are hungry for an answer to the hurts of life. We must realise that it is we who hold that Answer, that Answer being a person, Jesus Christ. In light of this, then, we all should be asking: “What would Jesus Do?”
Our job is to make Him attractive to the world by how WE behave. As I have heard many say, “Sometimes we are the only Bible that men and women will ever read.”