When was the last time you had to purchase a car?
For many people, doing so is an uncomfortable experience. There can be a lot of pressure walking around a lot, doing test drives, and then sitting down in an office with a salesperson who goes back and forth to check with their manager on the finer points of negotiation.
“What do I have to do to put you behind that wheel today?” or something similar.
A lot of that discomfort comes in knowing that for the salesperson, no matter how good at small talk they may be their chief goal is to close the deal.
That’s how many Christians view evangelism, except they’re not the ones sitting in the chair trying to get the best price; they are the salesperson who is doing everything they can to move a person from point A to point B, closing the “faith deal” with a prayer.
The early disciple Andrew stands against this philosophy. It’s not that Andrew wasn’t passionate about sharing his faith with others; he certainly was. Virtually every time we see him in the New Testament he is introducing someone to Jesus. That’s the key difference – Andrew knew that the true power of evangelism came not with persuasive arguments, but simply providing an introduction to Jesus. He is more than capable of doing the convincing on His own.
The first time we meet Andrew, though, he was following John the Baptist. He was one of two disciples who were with John when John made his testimony that Jesus was “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” That statement was enough for Andrew and his companion. While they had been followers of John the Baptist, they abruptly changed course and began to follow Jesus. These verses tell us that Andrew, along with another, spent several hours with Jesus, and emerged with a life-changing confession: “We have found the Messiah!”
Let’s not miss the gravity of this statement. Generation upon generation had passed, all waiting on the chosen one from God, the Messiah. The people had come to believe that this Messiah would be a political leader that God would raise up to throw off the Roman oppression the people were living under. Like Moses who God used to deliver the people from their servitude in Egypt, so the Messiah would deliver the people from Rome and re-establish Israel as a national power. At this point, Andrew didn’t know that he, like everyone else, wasn’t grasping God’s true intentions – that the Messiah would not deliver the people in a political way. He would do something far better. Rather than saving the people from Rome, He would save the people from their sin and death. And rather than being the King of Israel, He would be the King of the Universe.
Nevertheless, the first thing Andrew did when he knew he had found Jesus was to go to his brother, Peter, and invite him to come and see Jesus also. In fact, most every time we see Andrew in the New Testament he is doing this same thing – inviting other people to see Jesus.
There is no clever pitch; there is no persuasive argument; just a simple invitation for Peter to come and encounter Jesus for himself. There is a sweet kind of freedom visible in Andrew’s actions. It’s the kind of freedom we would hope to have as Christians. But in order to feel that freedom of invitation, two things must be true about us:
1. We must sincerely love those closest to us.
This might seem like it goes without saying, but if we are to invite people closest to us to Jesus we must truly love them. Love goes beyond emotion; it is the genuine, heartfelt desire for someone’s good. This causes us to ask the question regarding those relationships: What is truly the best thing for an individual? Without exception, the best thing is Jesus. They might not know it; they might not even like it. But if we truly love those closest to us, then we are responsible to invite them to encounter that which is for their eternal good.
2. We must believe that Jesus is truly compelling.
Sometimes we are hesitant to talk about Jesus to those closest to us. Other times, we feel the pressure to make sure we have just the right presentation when we do talk to them. But Andrew felt neither of these things. He purely, and simply, invited Peter to encounter Jesus for himself. This is because, based on his own encounter with Jesus, Andrew was convinced that Jesus was truly compelling on His own. There was no need for a clever presentation or sales job; there was only a need to make an introduction, and then Peter would see for himself too.
This was, and is, the invitation of Jesus after all. As we seek to introduce others to the grace and peace we know through Christ, we find Jesus with the same invitation He offered those very first followers: “Come and you’ll see” (Jn. 1:39).