I strongly suspect that the Apostle Paul – perhaps the greatest evangelist of all time – was not interested in making converts to Christianity.
I don’t think either he was interested in quickie conversions obtained by respondents repeating a “sinners” prayer or signing a piece of paper – but rather he sought by all means to father true spiritual sons and daughters – a much more difficult and time consuming task! And, as any parent knows, the birth of a child is just the beginning of a life long commitment and relationship.
Again Paul’s concept of spiritual birth and life in the Kingdom of God was rooted in the example he found exemplified in the relationship between The Father and The Son. The writer to the Hebrews encapsulates this relationship when he says –
“For to which of the angels did the Father ever say, “You are My Son, today I have begotten (fathered) You [established You as a Son, with kingly dignity]”? And again [did He ever say to the angels], “I shall be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me”?”
Hebrews 1:5 (AMP)
As we have said before this and this alone was the model for evangelism in the New Testament. And it becomes crystal clear in the terminology Paul uses when communicating with his spiritual children.
Speaking of one of his beloved sons he writes in endearing terms as he pleads for him in a certain circumstance –
“I appeal to you for my [own spiritual] child Onesimus, whom I have fathered [in the faith] while a captive in these chains.”
Philemon 1: 10 (AMP)
And to his newly born children he is as gentle as a mother –
“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.”
1 Thessalonians 2:7 (NKJV)
As his children start to make their own way in the world he writes –
“You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
1 Thessalonians 2:10 – 12 (NKJV)
And when his children started to go astray he again pleads as a mother –
“Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives. I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance I don’t know how else to help you.”
Galatians 4:19 & 20 (NLT)
Finally when Paul searches for someone to whom he can commit his vision and ministry he does not go to the most prestigious Bible College or University, nor does ne seek the most lettered or learned – but instead looks for a man who is secure in his relationship as a son to a father – and so he writes –
2 Timothy 1:2
“To Timothy, a beloved son .. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”
2 Timothy 1:1 & 13 – 14 (NKJV)
I truly believe that we, as the church of God, will never progress – no matter how much we preach, pray, evangelise, build, spend or commit ourselves until we once again begin to live as sons and daughters of God and those among us, who are older in the faith or seek who to lead others, are imbued with the heart and compassion of true spiritual father’s and mother’s.