This is a question that many Christians throughout history have debated. Whilst some, of course, would point to the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20 as a directive for all Christians to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Others would respond that this directive was made only to the apostles and is instead a function of the church. After all, they’d further point out, doesn’t Ephesians 4:11 state that Christ gave some to be evangelists?
This counter-point may seem convincing at first, but it fails to take into consideration one crucial thing. Notably, the very nature of evangelism itself. You see, instead of being a separate action that we perform, evangelism is actually caught up with the totality of who we are as Christians.
What do I mean by this? Well, let us reflect on our very nature as Christians. Once, as we know, we were dead in sin due to our transgressions. Yet through the transformative grace bestowed unto us from God, this state has been dramatically changed. We are, as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “a new creature. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (ESV)
Our old lives, filled with selfishness and immorality, are removed – our new lives become centered on one person – Jesus Christ. Our hearts and minds – and subsequently our actions and speech — change to reflect this. It is as Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:3-4: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
As ‘new creatures’ then, we now go to Church, hear about Christ, and talk about Christ. Jesus becomes the focus of our words. We share discussions with other believers about Jesus and our mutual love of Him as our Lord and Saviour. It’s a foundation of what it means to be a Christian. In fact, speaking about Jesus is at very heart of our conversion — we are told in Romans 10:9 that: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Through our experiences in Church, we can see that speaking about Jesus is part of our very fabric as Christians. Yet, nowhere does it say in scripture that this speech should be restricted to believers. Rather, quite the opposite. Just as our actions should reflect Christ in all parts of our life, so too should our speech remain consistent. Yes, this may slightly change depending on the circumstances of the time. However, we need to let our speech constantly be speech which has been transformed, like our lives, by Christ, to point people to Christ.
Thus, we’re not necessarily called to “evangelise” as much as we are called to live consistent lives for Christ, of which speaking about Christ — whether in a church or secular context — is a core aspect of that. If we are living lives for Christ, this would undoubtedly permeate and affect all aspects of our lives, and both our speech and actions should consequently be reflective of that. Evangelising, therefore, is not an independent action that a Christian does, but is, rather, a function of who we are.
So go ahead and speak Christ to all of those in your life!