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The Carrot Juice Gospel?

previously published in June 2004

I always thought the gospel was like carrot juice. It may be healthy. It may increase your life span. It may be good for you. But it sure doesn’t taste very good! Now some of you may be confused at this point. Some of you may actually LIKE carrot juice. However, that is only because you did not drink the kind of carrot juice I had when I was a child. When my mom made carrot juice, she didn’t only use carrots. She added celery and broccoli and spinach and this powder meant to destroy the taste buds of little kids called barley green. The rule of thumb was if it grew out of the ground, it was in my carrot juice. And every morning she would put this grainy, greenish, vile tasting liquid in front of me and then she would command me to drink it. I hope you don’t misunderstand me. I know that she did it out of love. Each vegetable was hand selected to insure that I grew big and strong. However, the knowledge that the carrot juice was good for me did nothing for the gag reflex I got at the mere sound of vegetables grinding in our Champion juicer.

Many of us view the gospel in the same way. We see the gospel as a healthy, but definitely foul-tasting carrot juice. In our minds we know it is good for us, but our taste buds rebel. That is why many of us struggle with sharing the gospel. We have a hard enough time swallowing it ourselves, how could we possibly force it down someone else’s throat? Yet, as I read the bible I see a totally different attitude towards evangelism. Instead of dread, there is excitement in sharing the gospel. Paul in particular seems to epitomize the excited evangelist. Read how Paul describes the gospel in Romans 1:16, “The gospel is news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting from the Jews and then right on to everyone else” (Message)! The gospel to Paul is electrifying. The gospel to Paul is good tasting. Why? Because it’s good news! It’s the good news that we are not freaks of nature. It’s the good news that we have a purpose in life. It’s the good news that there is more to life than what happens to us in this world. It’s the good news that there is life beyond death. It’s the good news that the God who created us, loved us enough to die to redeem us, and he’s coming back to take us home.

Our role as evangelists is not to convince people that the gospel is good. Our role is not to force a vile tasting liquid down other people’s throats. Our role is simply to introduce Jesus to our friends. My eyes were opened to the power of friendship evangelism by the book Becoming a Contagious Christian by Bill Hybels. Friendship evangelism is sharing the gospel with those with whom we’ve already developed a relationship. Though unchurched people can be reached through media and sermons and tracts, the author explains that personal contact is the most effective way to share the gospel with an unbeliever. Each of us can reach hundreds of unbelievers through our relationships—we just need to be intentional about it. So how do we do that? What follows is a synopsis of the method Bill Hybels outlines with much more detail in his book.

Make a Target Group. The first step is to write down a few names of people you’d like to introduce Jesus to. The people in your target group can range from close friends to the UPS guy who drops off all your ebay purchases. You don’t even have to have a friendship with the people on the list yet. However, once they are on your list, you must be intentional about getting to know them better. Now, I want to be clear here, this is not entering into a relationship with someone just because you want to get another star on your crown in heaven. The friendship must be genuine or the evangelism won’t work.

Pray for your target group. The second step is to spend time each day praying for the people in your target group. Like I mentioned before our role is not to make people want the gospel. That’s God’s job. The Holy Spirit prepares the heart of the unbelievers. We may plant the seed, but God makes it grow. That is why it is so essential that through our prayers we pave the path for God’s power to reach our unbelieving friends.

Look for Spiritual Opportunities. Be on the look out for opportunities to transition your conversations to spiritual topics. For example a friend asks you what you did this past weekend. That’s a spiritual opportunity. You mention that you went to church, and all of a sudden the door is open to talk about church, God, or countless other spiritual topics. I believe that God gives us many of these opportunities every day, but many times we lose them because either we are unaware or too afraid to use them.
Tell Your Story. Every Christian has a testimony to share. Your testimony explains why you decided to be a Christian. Your testimony should include four parts. The first part is the BC (Before Christ). It should explain what your life was like before you met Christ. The second part is your conversion. It should explain how you came to Christ. It should be simple, clear, and repeatable. In other words if your friend wanted to accept Christ, they should be able to mimic what you did in your conversion section. The third part is the AD (After Christ). It should explain how your life has changed now that Christ is a part of it. Finally, the fourth part is a concluding question. You must you’re your story with a question or statement that requires a response. For example, “Can you relate to what I just said?” Now your testimony may not be as dramatic as someone else’s. Maybe you didn’t accept Christ in prison and leave behind a murderous past. However, just because your testimony isn’t dramatic does not mean that it isn’t powerful. In many ways a “regular” testimony may be more effective because more people will be able to identify with it. Chances are your friends haven’t gone to prison or murdered fifteen people, but they have experienced loneliness, hopelessness, and fear about the future. Your testimony can reach them.

Tell His Story. If you are leading someone to Christ, at some point you must share the gospel—His story. You don’t have to know the 27 fundamental beliefs by heart and you don’t have to be able to recite fifty verses by memory, but all of us must be able to concisely and effectively share the gospel. The gospel (the good news) is basically about four major players: God, Us, Christ, and You. God loves us, but we chose to reject his love by sinning. The problem is that without God we cannot live, so we are all doomed to die. However, Christ became the solution to our problem by dying on the cross. Thus he created a way for us to reconnect with God again. However, each of us must choose to reconnect with God. In his book, Bill Hybels gives many creative ways to share the message of the gospel. Pick one and practice sharing it.

It is an amazing experience to be a part of God’s transforming work in someone’s life. Words cannot describe the joy that I feel at the baptism of a friend who I introduced to Jesus. There truly is no high like helping a friend begin a relationship with God for the very first time. I realize why Paul was so excited about sharing the gospel. I understand why evangelism is described as a privilege. For it is during those times of celebration that I am reminded once again that the gospel isn’t carrot juice—it’s carrot cake.

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