"Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi
The famous quote seems to express the current attitude of many Christians when it comes to evangelism. It is an inspirational thought indeed. We should all aspire to live such holy lives for our Savior that people are attracted to Christ simply by the way we live. But would St. Francis have approved of he way we are applying this phrase?
Francis was a flaming evangelist for the gospel. After a failed attempt to go to Syria to evangelize, St. Francis devoted his life to evangelizing central Italy. He was an open air preacher as well. He believed in sharing the gospel using words. For more information about his preaching, go to...http://www.piney.com/DocFrAssisi.html
Today, I had coffee with a friend of mine who said, "I don't believe that it is my responsibility to share the gospel." He just wanted to live his life in such a way that people would be attracted to that example and hopefully come to Christ.
I reminded him that for a Christian, the Bible teaches that sharing the gospel is not optional. Jesus commanded us to tell others about his death, burial and resurrection.
Who is to say that your life well lived will look any different than that example of a good atheist, Buddhist, Muslim or any other religion?
Even though the world is closely looking at the way you live, you cannot assume that they are going to make the leap of asking why you live the way you do. Words are necessary. Eternity in hell is too high a price for those around you to pay for your silence. You may not be called to devote your life to the ministry of evangelism, but your commanded to give away your faith.
Don't fall in to the trap of thinking that silence is golden when it comes to witnessing. St. Francis of Assisi tells us to "Preach the gospel at all times..." Because faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God.