On the day the Titanic was scheduled to sail, the second officer was removed from the crew. In his pocket was the key to the locker that housed the binoculars that were used for the sailor in the crow's nest to see far ahead of the ship. Because the key was missing, the sailor was limited to what his human eyes could see. Because he could not see the iceberg, 1,522 people lost their lives in the chilly waters of the Atlantic on April 14, 1912, when the Titanic sank.
Just as tragic as the missing key was that the lifeboats designed to save people from dying were only half full. Even though the people in the boats could hear those who were freezing to death in the waters some distance from them, most of the boats did not go near them in an effort to save anyone else. Instead, they deafened their ears as they sat secure in their own salvation only, unwilling to risk returning to the dangerous scene.
The body of Christ must do better than those in the lifeboats on the fateful day as the Titanic sank. We must be stirred in the area of evangelism in order to take the risk and reach out to those who are lost. One thing that can light the passion of evangelism in our hearts at a greater and more aggressive level is the act of prayer.
If you ask me, "Tony, how can I get a burden to reach out to the lost and overcome my fears of evangelizing?", my answer would be to start praying. Pray for unsaved family members, friends, and coworkers by name. Ask God to break your heart over their condition and give you "divine appointments" to share Christ with them and the boldness to speak for Him. Pray also for boldness and courage in your own heart. Pray that the Lord will give you spiritual eyes to view humanity and the lost the way He does. Let your gratitude for your salvation be a fire that lights your desire to share that salvation with others.
And, by the way, if you feel fearful at times, you are not alone. Even Paul, the great evangelist, asked the Ephesians to pray that he would have the boldness necessary to proclaim the gospel.
Paul's prayer request is worth quoting here because it would make a great prayer for you to pray: "Pray...that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel...that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Ephesians 6:19-20).
The Bible says that Christians are no longer to live for themselves (see 2 Corinthians 5:15). Many of us are not seeing the power of God at work because we are living for ourselves when God wants us to have a heart for others that's as big as the needy world we live in. When we start praying for people's salvation and discipleship, we won't have a hard time reaching out to the spiritually lost and making room for them in the lifeboat, because we will realize that the church's witness is a life-and-death issue.
If you and I and a few million other Christians will become burdened to actively evangelize not only in our churches but in our daily lives, we'll have a big part of the answer to the question of whether believers in Christ are actually followers and not just fans. And whether we are collectively contributing to the destruction or restoration of America.
Watch Tony Evans this Monday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from America: Turning a Nation to God by Tony Evans. Copyright ©2015 by Anthony T. Evans. Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.