Monday, January 7, 2008

When Less Is More

What are the three best things anyone can do in order to aid evangelism?

1) Love (John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-8; Hebrews 10:24; 1 John 3:16-20; Galatians 6:10);

2) Demonstrate the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Hebrews 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5; Luke 24:46-49)

3) Be ready with your answer (1 Peter 3:15-16; John 9:24-38; Acts 26:1-29; 2 Timothy 1:8a; Luke 9:26).

We don't need to drink liquor with the world in order to win them, or to gyrate and grind with them at dance clubs, or to use vulgar language, or to entertain them, or to be entertained with them in order to have something to talk with them about around the water cooler. Evangelism is not offering the world more of what it already has, but that which is divinely different! Not different just for difference sake (i.e saffron robes and shaved heads, or their analogs), nor different by artifice (religiosity that makes us feel more spiritual but was never part of the practice of Jesus or the Apostles), but the difference that arises naturally, really supernaturally, when God is in the place.

If people will not heed the invitation to put their trust in Christ and walk with him now, when that invitation is accompanied by the demonstration of love, Holy Spirit power and personal testimony, then they don't need to be in God's company in eternity. Not because they are anymore wicked than any of us, but because they will not surrender to the will of God and the leadership of his Spirit. If one can't agree with God, he or she needs to burn in hell! A church that accommodates human willfulness, instead of confronting it, provides no service to anyone except Satan. Silencing the call for repentance, or expanding the tent of salvation to enclose sinful human willfulness is not evangelism. If that is what it takes to grow in post-modern society, perhaps less really is more.

4 comments:

  1. Great post, though the church cultural problem is a little different here in the UK.

    I'm thankful that the kind of consumer Christianity I perceive in much of the US and which you refer to in your post has not made it into the UK. At least, not in the same way. Not many churches "entertain" in a way that draws unbelievers, but we sure know how to entertain believers and make them comfy!

    However, we do have a regrettable heritage, in this part of the UK at least, of confrontation without love, power, or answers. Such confrontation is really condemnation. But ...

    --
    For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:17-18, emphasis added)
    --

    What's needed is the same IMHO: a confrontation of love, power and answers. Great inspiration! Thanks :-)

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  2. Mark,
    Sometimes, I think the church in America wants success (filled buildings, full budgets, overflowing recognition) more than it wants truth. The truth, of course, is that God loves people and wants them by his side, but that no one standing obstinately in willfulness will be able to. Isn't that why we must truly confess him as Lord? Isn't that what a disciple is? That last part of the truth gets in the way of success among the self-centered, materialistic masses and so gets truncated, but when we speak the truth, some folk, maybe lots of them, will inevitably walk away.

    We too have a stream in our church heritage of judgment without love, power or answers (the reality of Christ in us). Perhaps this represents the opposite extreme of the "marketers" mentioned above. This end of the spectrum misses the boat as badly as the other, because religion never has, and never will save anyone (regardless of how loud it may shout,
    "Repent!").

    Nonetheless, the awesome truth is that God, despite his astounding holiness, reaches out in astonishing love to pull us into the safety of his presence without regard to our muckiness, if we're just willing to leave the swamp of our own devices and take his hand.

    BTW, I love what you're doing in Inverness because I see compassion without compromise. If you wanted success like much of the American church does, you'd have changed your tune long ago.

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  3. Google Douglas Small with Central Church of God in Charlotte, NC. He has a sermon there entitled, "Whatever Happened to Holiness" that is worth downloading. His message is similar to your post here.

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  4. Thanks Seeking, for the heads up.

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Any comment in ill taste or not germane to the post may be deleted without warning. I am under no obligation to give anyone an opportunity to call me names or impugn my motives or integrity. If you can't play nice, go somewhere else and play.