Pastor's Blog

Many see evangelism as merely a matter of laying out “magic words” to the public.  Just say the magic words.  Preach them from a pulpit.  Shout them out on a city street corner.  Put them on a billboard.  Hand them out on leaflets to strangers in airports and restaurants.  Leave them in restrooms and lobbies.  Just get the magic words out!  That’s your sole responsibility.  This is what many evangelicals consider “preaching the gospel.”

The best Christians, they think, are the ones that say the magic words most often and most loudly.  Those are the people that care about souls.  And those that don’t say the magic words loud and often are portrayed as fearful and not willing to stand for Jesus.  They are taunted with guilt and hand-wringing for failing to “get the message out.” 

What if today is that soul’s last chance to hear, and you didn’t say the magic words of the gospel?  What if that soul dies and go to hell tonight because you didn’t say the magic words?  How will you feel when you see them on judgment day?

This approach to evangelism seems to me to cheapen the gospel and human lives.  People who throw the gospel at people seem to care about the task more than they care about the souls they are talking to. 

The gospel doesn’t work magically.  It is not just hearing the words of the gospel.  The words must be understood.  There must be context to the word that makes them applicable to the life of the listener.

Jesus said “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (John 13.35).  If you, followers of Jesus, love ONE ANOTHER (not just your family, not outsiders, not the whole world – each other), then ALL PEOPLE (outsiders included) will know that you are followers of Jesus.

This is Jesus’ KEY marketing strategy.  How we conduct ourselves – how we talk with each other, work with each other, handle conflicts with each other, whether we rejoice with each other, weep with each other, care for one another in times of need, how we enjoy one another in the good times – all these things point other people to the One we follow.

Think about people that grew up in environments in which they learned to be suspicious, to be critical, to be defensive.  Many believe others are always out to get them and that they must be combative and mean-spirited to survive.  Many of them have learned to hate and fight others.  Many learned to manipulate others.

Many have a hard time believing that people with truly genuine hearts exist – people that love one another, forgive one another, accept each other warts and all;  people that can correct and be corrected and still be friends, people who stand up for each other and  have each other’s backs no matter what. 

Some have never seen those things lived out.  Jesus says they should see it among his followers.

Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” 
Gandhi’s words hurt.
They should.

Perhaps we are wringing our hands about the wrong things.

 

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