Misplaced Jesus, Theology — July 18, 2011 at 12:35 am

Preach the Gospel (and, yes, use words)

by

Many Christians get profoundly uncomfortable with the word “evangelism”. Heck, many non Christians are uncomfortable with the idea, imagining street corner preachers and ugly confrontations with family.

The honest truth is the more you don’t talk about God the harder it will be to talk about God for Christians and non-Christians alike. It’s sort of like dating after a long absence, it only becomes more awkward the longer you wait.

Why do scriptures put such an emphasis on the need to spread the gospel: the “good news”? Well, it’s because Christ offers life and life in abundance. Jesus draws near to those who draw near to him. To those who lean on him and trust in him in their day-to-day.

Christ came to die for sinners. All of us are in need of a savior, yes, even the Christian who may not be saved simply because they attend church or call themselves believers. The gospels offer a transformation of the heart: a lifestyle change so profound that the scriptures describe it as coming from death to life. The gospels aren’t a self-help guide, because Christians have believed that the ability for one to truly help themselves is actually very limited, especially when it comes to matters of the heart and matters of character. All are in need of a God who is surprisingly aware of the details and needs of every person–even every creature–on the earth.

The less you talk about the God, the less likely you will make him known to anyone. Again the Christian life isn’t fundamentally about you. Evangelism doesn’t refer to a certain style or way of talking. It is the process of making God known. We use our mouths, resources, and lives to testify to what we believe in. What do you ultimately believe in? What would your closest friends say?

Evangelism is the process of testifying to what God has already done and is doing in your life. Jesus asks, do you love me more than these?

4 Comments

  • Alexei, I enjoyed reading your article – well articulated and simply put, thank you.

    However, my struggle with evangelism doesn’t come from an aversion to conversing about God for fear of being ridiculed or seen as a “street corner preacher.” It doesn’t even have to do with being uncomfortable. It’s from the simple fact that I cannot in good conscience profess the love and grace of a God whose love is so difficult to define or identify.

    I have been struggling on and off with my faith for five years now, and one issue that I continue to wrestle about is the notion of God truly loving me. There have been moments in my life where I have literally cried out to Him, completely broken, totally alone, in need of the Father I put my faith and trust in to bring me peace and reassurance, even if things weren’t alright then, that they would be. I have full and total faith in God to do this – and I didn’t feel Him. And this hasn’t happened once…I’ve felt abandoned by God more times than I care to admit.

    Amazingly, I am not an atheist right now. I still have hope that God is there, though admittedly my relationship with Him right now is rocky at best.

    But my question to you is this – how could I possibly conceive of sharing the “good news” of Christ’s unfailing, unfaltering love with another human being, when I feel failed by God? When I myself feel unloved, unwanted, always questioning whether or not I have His grace? I would be a liar, a deceiver.

    I wish I could spread news like that. I wish I could come to someone in love and tell them about this amazing hope that I have, that’s never failed or forsaken me.

    But the truth is, we all feel so unloved by everyone and thing in this world…to feel unloved by the God of the universe is a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

  • Thanks for this thoughtful reply.

    We all experience God in a variety of ways. I would even venture to say that God allows us various experiences of him, even his absence. The Psalms are filled with this

    “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”

    His faithfulness to us even in absence of our experience of him can come, though does not always, through other means (the scriptures, community, the love of a friend).

    And yet there is also the reality of the struggles of our daily lives and our deep personal pains, the ones we can hardly articulate.

    I believe in the midst of those, Jesus says behold I am with you even unto the end of the age.

    The truth is that we all struggle with God. We wrestle with him like Jacob did (seeking God’s blessing for his own path), like Job did when all was taken from him, like the prodigal son (who is unsure of his father’s love or forgiveness), even like Jesus did when he asked that the pain of his death by crucifixion be taken from him. The story of the scriptures are that God works with beautiful imperfections much like ourselves. I certainly testify to it.

    I propose that our common prayer ought to be that we find the peace that we seek in Jesus, even in the midst of our realities.

  • Hello Alexei and Anonymous,
    I liked reading both of your posts and I can’t help but feel like there is a miscommunication going on. We’re talking alot about God and Christianity which is a lot less concrete than talking about Jesus. Like Anonymous showed us, it’s very difficult for many people to have a love and trust for God. But I would be very surprised if she had very many negative feelings about Jesus and his teachings which ended slavery, sexism and so much more. I would argue that one of the main reasons why Jesus came was to help us see God for who He is and not all the religious crap that gets thrown on him. I’ve loved that so many of the main characters of the Old Testament struggled with whether or not God was good. They saw all this foreshadowing going on and couldn’t quite grasp the beautiful redemptive story that was unfolding.
    Christianity is an even bigger mess with all it’s Crusades, Inquisitions, and so much hate propaganda. I’m so glad that nowhere in scripture do we find Jesus asking us to make people Christians. I know this is hard to believe, but every time Jesus was with a Jew he encouraged him to go to the temple and when he was with Gentiles he just told them to tell other people about me. Which is so much easier than trying to convert people! In fact you’ll be very hard pressed to find any direct commands to evangelize even in the epistles. Paul writes again and again to “live peaceful quiet lives, working with your hands so you can give to those who have need, and that people will see your good works and ask about the hope that is in you.” (I think I threw about 4 verses together in that one, sorry for not being very scholarly. I’m just a house painter;)
    But I don’t think you (Alexei) were communicating that we all have to be like Paul and tell everyone we meet that they need to repent and become a Christian. I think you were wanting to exhort us to be bold and talk about our love for Jesus, His teachings and how they’ve changed us and the world! But I think it gets lost in religious semantics that have confused so many of us.

  • O Tema foi bem elaborado. No entanto é verdade a Palavra do senhor deve se espalhar, afim de buscar mas pessoas para seu reino.

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