In ‘The Art of Personal Evangelism’ the author states “dealing with lost people will cause us to get our hands dirty and sweaty just like tending to yard work. Part of evangelism is to clear up misconceptions and misperceptions people have about the gospel. Dealing with people and evangelism is often messy.”
I am not sure I can imagine anyone disagreeing with the above statement. Perhaps maybe someone who is abusing the Calvinistic doctrines (I am Calvinistic) and pretending there is not need for human involvement in evangelism. My only caveat would be how one defines the phrase “get our hands dirty.’
I am afraid that a great deal of people would say that the very act of engaging people could cause one to get dirty. They take a some what 1st century Jewish view toward someone with leprosy. The very idea of sitting next to a person who is not obviously by all superficial standards a born again, bible believing and like minded, have you, Christian would demand the true believer, upon discovery, to jump back and shout ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ This camp would have ‘IN NOT OF’ tattooed upon their foreheads if tattooing were not so satanic. It is just simply silly to believe that someone could catch sin as they would the flu or a STD. After all Christ himself was constantly found in the presence of sinners. In fact if anything one could assume by looking at the life and mission of Christ that personal engagement with the people we seek to save is a must. Derek Webb put it this way,
‘…like the three in one
know you must become what you want to save
‘cause that’s still the way
He takes to the world.’
Now assuming that no one views getting dirty in that way we are left as far as I can see to view the reactionary phrase of evangelism causing us to get dirty in the since we would a doctor becoming dirty in the event of Child birth. If we think outside the realm of blood diseases and just focus on what is happening. For the doctor or midwife to help in the delivery of a child they must get dirty. The blood and fluids do not defile the doctor but are simply a required part of the process. It is something that we must go through in order to bring life in. It is painful and somewhat of a mystery but it is the way we are allowed to breathe and smile and die. Another example may be that of a construction worker. He is bathed in sweat and pain and dust and the end result is a beautiful structure that serves purpose and provides shelter. The dirt can be washed away simply and what is left is a beauty and form and presence.
In conclusion I would agree with the assertion that evangelism requires an amount of filth. It does so not because the nature of the message or the purpose we seek to accomplish in the act, it does so because of the need. When humanity was broken and became less it takes Christ wading through that mess to redeem it and bring it into redemption. Consequently when we act in the name of Christ and search out those who are still without hope we too must take part in their pain and blood and sweat and tears. Other wise is to attempt to build from afar or to birth in sterility.