I have been a missionary both at home and abroad. I have traveled to dangerous inner-city ghettos and dusty, dirty African compounds. I have sung songs with poor children in the streets of Mexico and built houses for the homeless in the streets of New Haven. And found that there was only one thing I needed.
I have been trained in every type of evangelism possible, from “Evangelism Explosion” to the “Four Spiritual Laws” to “Romans Road” to simple John 3:16 evangelism. I have sat on park benches in Michigan sharing my faith with passersby, and preached, awkwardly, on a street corner where no one really listened. And learned that there was only one thing I really needed.
I have served to weariness in churches near and far: sharing my testimony, praying, giving, counseling, worshiping, cooking, organizing, leading, following, discipling, and teaching, in the hopes of reaching others for Jesus. And seen that there is only one thing I’ve ever needed: to be with Jesus.
The simple truth is that people recognize when you have been with Jesus.
All the training in the world – all the sophisticated techniques we develop for reaching the world for Christ – are nothing without Christ Himself. They are helpful, yes, but the real power to reach the nations for Christ is in the Presence of Jesus. And there’s only one way to get that: you must be with Jesus!
What sounds so simple and seems so obvious is often missed.
Acts 3 and 4 tells the story of Peter and John: ordinary, unschooled men, who went up to the temple to pray. They had no agenda other than to be with Jesus – to seek God in prayer. On the way, they healed a man. The healing opened the door to some local “street peaching” about Jesus, and in the end, the number of those who heard and believed grew to about 5000! (Acts 4:4).
What’s interesting to me is that when Peter and John are examined by the Jewish council for this healing, the conclusion that the elders draw is this: “They recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13, NIV).
Over 5000 men, from peasants to priests, recognized that these two praying men had been with Jesus.
There are Old Testament examples, too. In Exodus, the Israelites recognized by the sheen on Moses’ face that he had been with God. The Bible says: “Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.” (Exodus 34:24, NIV). And in the Psalms, David writes that “those who look to Him are radiant” (Psalm 34:5, NIV). Our time with Jesus transfigures us and causes us to radiate His glory to a darkened world.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says it this way: “Whoever turns his face to Jehovah will receive reflected brightness on his face; as when a mirror is directed sunwards, the dark surface will flash into sudden glory. Weary eyes will gleam. Faces turned to the sun are sure to be radiant.” (Expositor’s Bible, commentary on Psalm 34:5, as found on Bible Hub).
This kind of power to reach others with Jesus is still available to us today. Yet we rarely see thousands of people coming to Christ at one time. Why? I believe the main reason we are powerless is because we are distracted by too many worldly things.
A Modern Example
Recently, I attended a Christian worship gathering where the Presence of God felt so “thick” in the room you could almost touch it. It was at a church where prayer is practiced on a regular basis and seeking God is the essence of who they are. And it shows. When you enter a place like this, you just know that you are with God!
I know of someone at this gathering who, during the worship, had a vision in which she saw Jesus standing directly in front of her in heaven. He was facing her, with His hands on her shoulders. The Lord was looking intently at her, as if trying to hold her attention.
But then she turned away, and stooped down to gather things on the ground around her. She became concerned with the minute details of life, trying to pick up things she thought were important. Even as she did it, she wondered: Why? Why, in the Presence of the Lord, would she turn away and become consumed with such minor details?
A voice spoke to her and said “You cannot lead others to a place where you do not dwell yourself. When you remain in My Presence, standing with Me, people will look at you but see Me. This is your place of authority, and this is one way I draw mankind to Myself.”
She knew she was hearing from Jesus. And I believe this is a picture of the Bride of Christ, a vision not meant just for her, but also for us.
There is only one thing we need to reach the world for Jesus, and that is to be with Jesus ourselves. To be so full of His radiant glory that others say of us, also: “we recognize that you have been with Jesus!”
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.