I had the privilege of driving myself to work today. While I enjoy carpooling, it is nice to sometimes make that one hour commute by myself. It is a really good time to get quiet before the Lord and listen and think. Here’s what God seemed to be impressing on my heart this morning. This is a somewhat harsh topic but it is what God is teaching me. Perhaps it will encourage you as well….
The gospel is about salvation. Salvation from what? Sin. At some point when talking about the good news, you have to talk about the bad news of human sinfulness and the penalty for that. This sometimes makes the cross offensive to people.
The danger in all this lies in our fear of stepping forward unapologetically and unashamedly and proclaiming the truth. I try to live out my faith where I work but that is very difficult. I feel very alone most of the time. My values don’t align with the values of my colleagues. I have never been called a Jesus freak but I have been not invited to social gatherings, like Friday afternoons at the sports bar after work. They said they knew I wouldn’t be comfortable there, and they were right.
If I seek my culture’s approval, I’ll either never get it or I will get it at the expense of failing to represent Christ. I am promised that if I live a godly life that I will suffer persecution. Persecution here in the US is not that tough. Perhaps a little name calling or being shunned from certain events. If you can’t handle that much for the Savior who died for you, then you really needed to examine your faith again.
We should be nice to others and it really hurts me when I hear Christians who cut others down. However, it is also sad when our niceness keeps us from speaking the truth. Niceness is not the gospel. Yes, you need to live out your faith. But modern Christianity seems to see that as simply loaning your neighbor a cup of milk and hoping they will turn to Christ. Yes, live out your faith but also open your mouth. Somehow we think that if we talk about Jesus others will think we are weird. If Jesus is important to you, talk about Him. Our good example is important, but it is often not sufficient. There are actual Biblical truths that need to be expressed in words.
Will this generation understand the message of the gospel? God and His Word never change. The plan of salvation has never changed. The method of spreading the Word has never changed. Don’t alter the gospel in order to make it something that everyone can easily agree with. If the gospel becomes nothing more than the reflection of the world, then it has nothing new to offer. Jesus paid with his life to offer a gospel of forgiveness, redemption, and hope. His message is not popular but it was never meant to be. Our job is to speak the truth in love and not edit it in any way.
There are lots of believers today who treat their Christianity as their private business. They don’t challenge the people whose lives and words are contrary to Biblical principles. They try to avoid controversy at all costs so that they aren’t judged to be “one of those radicals”. They don’t want to be associated with the group that opposes things like homosexuality and abortion. They want the world to accept them to the point that they distance themselves from Biblical doctrine. They don’t want to discuss topics like hell. They end up making themselves so much like the world that they soon have nothing left to offer the world.
It is not our job to be popular. We are not part of Jesus’ PR team. We don’t need to tone it down so that we can appeal to a larger population. Jesus is in charge and we are simply his ambassadors. We are to do what he sends us out to do. That includes representing him clearly and accurately to the world. Represent the whole gospel, the real Jesus, not the one who is culturally acceptable.
There is nothing new about the gospel offending people or turning people off. It has always been that way and will continue to be that way. Be strong and courageous and speak the truth.
D. L. Moody was once criticized for his approach to evangelism and he replied, “I like the way I do it better than the way you don’t do it.”
It is not nice to withhold the gospel from others when you consider they are going to hell without it. Don’t confuse your graciousness and kindness with indifference and cowardice. (OK – ouch – that one hurt)
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.”
2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."