We have all seen those brilliant “info-mercials”, showing how awful your life is without their gadget and how wonderful it becomes with it. It’s as if the extra 2 minutes taken for a task or the extra one foot you may have to walk doing things the way you always have is simply the worst thing ever. Now, their new product will save you time and effort. Then, when you take another look, you realize, it is not that big a deal. But, the hype that goes with it sure makes it sound good.
Have we been hyping up the Gospel?
I began my walk with the Lord over 40 years ago. For some of the readers, here, that was before you were born. For one or two others, well, we are in the same aging boat.
Back then, programs and gimmicks for spreading the Gospel were becoming very popular. There were hundreds of tracts to pass out, evangelism classes and programs and all sorts of gimmicky items at the local Bible book store. Each of these were to make everyone “effective witnesses” for Jesus.
I am here to say, none of it was ever necessary. It was all hype. Every tract, every program, every class and seminar seemed good on the surface, but was really only riding the wake of what the Lord was already doing.
One program was called, “I Found It!”, back in the late 70’s. The church I was with at the time took part and I was part of the program. First, you sat through an introduction and there was some training for the materials used. Then, there were 3 levels of “outreach”; door to door, a phone campaign and (if phone contacts accepted) home visits. You can’t get any more like a marketing program than that. The program, for lack of any better term, was an overall failure.
We don’t need programs or tracts in order to be a witness. A witness is just that. What does a witness do? Witnesses stuff. We can only witness what we see, hear or experience. Then, we can testify based upon what we have witnessed. Our witness is not based on a program or a seminar, but on what we have experienced.
There is also no sense in sensationalizing Jesus or a life in Christ. You have probably heard some say how “life is better” or “without Jesus you are not truly alive”. We have all seen the droves of people gong for an “altar call” at churches, revival meetings or evangelism meetings. Often (not always), there is a teacher/preacher who uses rhetoric and flashy phrases, mixed with the threat-of-hell speech, countered with the reward-of-heaven speech which simply appeals to peoples’ emotions.
Yes, many people started their walk with Jesus from one of those meetings. But, most of the people who we see running up for those “altar calls” wind up right back in their same old lives, not getting to know Jesus. This is not the fault of the meeting nor the people. What it seems to be is an exercise in futility.
From Matthew 28…
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It is really quite simple. In Acts 1, verse 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.”
Let’s highlight a few things…
- Make disciples. Jesus simply taught people. This doesn’t mean we have to hold Bible Study or the like. But, when opportunity arises, we should be open to share what we know.
- Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am impressed how many people teach stuff that Jesus never said.
- I. Am. With. You. Always and forever. His Spirit dwells in us.
- You will be my witnesses. We tell what we have witnessed…what we know, what we have seen, what we have heard.
There is far more simplicity in sharing the Gospel than what we have been led to think. What is the Gospel? Good News. What is the Good News? Jesus. Not that He saved us from Hell, nor that He made a way for us to get to Heaven. But, that He made a way for us to get to the Father, to know Him even as we are fully known.
The Lord has really given us everything we need to share the Gospel…His Spirit. Then, all we need to do is share, as we have opportunity. We start by sharing ourselves, as a friend, with the love of God working through us. As for whether a person is “reached” or decides to follow Christ, really has nothing to do with us.
Jesus said in John 15, “You did not choose Me…”. It is not up to us to convince anyone. For us to do that makes us take on a job that is not ours and a position that we are not qualified for. That job belongs to the Holy Spirit.
When we manipulate, cajole, sell, convince, beg, plead, scream and yell in order to “win souls”, what we are doing is taking the place of God’s Spirit.
I am not about to say the programs are bad or that they are completely useless. Unfortunately, we often look at new and better ways to preach the Gospel, when all the while, we have all we need to share the Lord with others.
~Let me be a little picky about some wording. We do not “witness to” anyone. We use the term “witnessing”, but this is also not accurate. We are witnesses of what the Lord has done for us and Who He is.~
Here it is…Jesus loves me, this I know. Repeat. If Jesus loves me, he surely loves everyone else. My life should reflect this. My walk should reflect this. Our job, if you will, as believers, is to imitate Him and do as He commands. We are to love one another, love Him and love our neighbor.
With love in – I will say it again – the nucleus, what we say and do will be out of genuine concern and compassion for others. If we share the Lord with them and they are not interested, love dictates we don’t shun them or blow them off, we don’t treat them like they are sitting on a ledge overlooking Hell and will drag us with them because we associate with them.
It’s not up to us. Not up to pulpit pounders. Not up to “street preachers”. None of us have to stress and strain to make sure people “get saved”. We are to simply imitate Christ and share as we have opportunity. It may be to one person. It may be to a crowd. It is always up to the Spirit. More of us are like Stephen (less the stoning thing) or Philip than we are Peter or Paul. Let’s relax a little and make ministering more organic and way less mechanical.
What do you think?