"Preach the gospel. And if necessary, use words"
-commonly attributed to St Francis of Assisi
The past few days, I have been pondering many topics that run in and out of each other. Along the lines of what the definition of missions and a missionary would be and how the term 'missionary' even came about (for those of you wondering, one website says the word "mission" comes from the Latin word mitto, which was derived from the Greek word apostello. This latter word means "to send"). Then how would you describe the 'gift of evangelism', how would it be evidenced in a persons life and is it inextricably linked to the missionary call?
This then led into what evangelism is, the different ways of evangelising, what the aim of evangelism is and what/how it is to be said and I was sent looking through the gospels with the intent of finding out 'what did Jesus do'? In Matthew chapter 8: "a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." (Mt 8:19-22).
Again in Luke, Jesus speaks of choosing Him over family and even our own lives. "Suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:31-33).
These passages, among others, speak of a careful, well thought out decision. We often see, however, in the church where it is only the message of love that is spoken; people are chased after, pursued, pleaded and argued with to choose Christ. Yes, love is an important part of the gospel message: "For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16) but it seems to be such a wishy-washy thing in the church today. Many new Christians quickly become disillusioned, having thought that life would become easier and without trouble and turmoil with God - they weren't told about the cost, didn't consider it. Christ left nobody disillusioned - instead it was more likely that one would turn away considering the cost too high. He told them the cost and then taught them to repent! "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13: 2-3).
This may seem harsh, but what is more loving: telling someone the whole truth and allowing them to come to an informed decision knowing that Jesus is not a ticket to a free ride through difficulties, but that "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). OR for someone to be told 'Jesus loves you, come have an easy life' where they will simply expect ease and happiness without repentance and at the end have their earthly treasures burnt up (2 Peter 3:10-11) and perhaps hear God say, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23)?
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."
-2 Timothy 4:1-5
Father God, thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for me, for us all. Thank you that I was told the true gospel message and truly know you and have the opportunity to learn more and more each day. Lord, as I was given the choice of accepting the gift of salvation, so I hunger to ensure others have that same choice. I pray that my life may be an example and a good testimony to your goodness and that as you bring others across my path that I would be able to listen and obey your promptings on when to speak and when to remain silent, on what to say - that my words would be your words. Father I pray that I wouldn't cause any to stumble by not sharing the entire truth, that I would be a loving and honest witness. In Jesus' name, amen.
When I spoke to Ganeida earlier this evening and asked her thoughts on a question, she echoed back to me almost word for word some of the things going through my mind, however I don't know how well I have given them justice here or if this post has ended up what I intended as I began. So Ganeida, apologies if I seem to have borrowed your words/thoughts - I did give you an earlier disclaimer and I plead no intellectual property infringements!! :p