We are introduced to a new description of God's messenger in Acts 21 when Phillip is referred to as an evangelist. It is a term we turn into a title when we are referring to a specific person who has made evangelism a primary part of his life.
Scholars of the Bible use the term in describing the work of Jesus in his conversation with the woman at the well. Paul told the young preacher Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist." Even Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, a New Testament book about evangelism, is considered by some of the Bible experts to have also worked as an evangelist.
What does the term mean to you? Is it a title we give to those whose lives are devoted entirely to preaching and teaching the gospel? Based on the wording of the Great Commission which Jesus gave, are we all, in some respects, commanded to be involved in evangelism, and does that make us all evangelists? I read a story today that might shed some light on your answers to these questions.
The story setting is in the middle of the previous century, a time when a lot of commercial travel was by train. On the train in the story, a man was seated near a woman, strangers to each other. During the journey they conversed about various things including their families, the town in which they lived, and their interests. When their conversation turned to the Bible, the man seemed more alert and the rest of their conversation had seemed of great importance to him.
Arriving at the next stop, the woman thanked the man for their visit and conversation, as she exited the train. She was greeted at the depot by her husband and began telling him about the man she had met and how serious he got about their discussion of Christianity. She told her husband it would have been good if he had been on the train also, to witness how serious this man's faith was to him.
"What did the man say," asked the husband? The wife replied, "he asked me if I was a Christian." The husband quickly blurted out, "And did you tell him to mind his own business?" The wife was quiet for a moment, thinking exactly how she was going to answer, but then she spoke. "He talked as though it was his business."
I believe there are countless blessings that go along with becoming a Christian. Some of those blessings carry with them associated responsibilities, and the primary responsibility of every child of God is to reach in our homes, neighborhoods, and to every place in the world with the message of Jesus' salvation. That makes you and me an evangelist with the determination of evangelizing the world.
That doesn't mean we all must go to a preaching school or a Bible seminary. It doesn't mean we all must make our livelihood from preaching and teaching. But it does mean for every Christian there should be such a concern for the lost that we, by the actions and words of our lives, can demonstrate we are people who have met the Master who brings eternal life. We, like Jesus, must be about our Father's business.