Monday, July 23, 2007

Evangelism: 7 Lies (#3)

The 7 lies and then 7 possibilities were delivered to the Jews for Jesus Summer Campaign volunteers last week.

3. You can just love people in.

Very popular today: you love people in. You 'be Jesus to people', rather than 'speak Jesus to people'. And so you say very few or even no words.

I find this phrase interesting: Just be Jesus to people and they will see Jesus in you. It is an appealing way forward, particularly in a world that distrusts evangelicals. But it's odd.

Jesus was just Jesus to people and they killed him.

And Jesus was just Jesus using words all the time. You see the Devil knows the power of words. (1 Corinthians 1:18 Romans 1:16) and doesn't want you to know the secret.

Pic by d-4ce


mandy m said...

I definetly agree, but do you think maybe this bias has come from recognising that in today's western society we need to earn the right to speak more than perhaps 50 years ago???

a rehearsed apologetic just doesn't seem to cut it anymore...

Justin said...

Hi Mandy,

Thanks for the interaction...

For some, a rehearsed apologetic has never cut it!

But my question is: What does it mean to have the right to speak?

mandy m said...

Hmm, i'll say what immediately comes to mind - but beware! I'm sure I'll be back to add further thoughts ; )

I think what I was meaning is that we need to GAIN PERMISSION to share our faith maybe more than we do (this is something I was reading and thinking about only yesterday, so really I’m speaking to myself...)

In Acts 21 & 22 I think Paul demonstrates clearly that he recognises that he doesn’t hold a position of power, influence, respect etc etc, and so he essentially asks permission to speak/acts within his lowly position 3 times
(21v.37, 39, 22v. 1) – Of course we could say that this was partly due to the fact that he was under the control of the commander (arrested), but I think the principle can still hold true today when we desire to testify about Christ:- I think part of recognising that we are aliens in this world is to be like missionaries (even in our own culture), seeing that the gospel and our faith no longer holds a prominent position in society (thus we are intruders, like missionaries to foreign cultures understand well).

So part of this could involve being like Paul and actually asking permission to speak– say I’m in a conversation with someone about different faith systems or something - people may be more responsive if I ask them “Can I share with you what I’ve discovered??” instead of just saying “Well I’ve discovered that blah blah blah...” But I think coming in with an attitude of humility realising that our society doesn’t give rights/respect/attention to what we believe also means we have to earn the permission to speak in other ways too:- through extensive listening and becoming aware of what others believe before we speak (Christians are a minority), building genuine relationships of friendship, care and trust – often I have to check my motivations ( I am slowly learning that it is actually wrong to build a friendship with the one purpose in mind) etc etc etc.

I figure that although this is most certainly God’s world and Christ maintains all control, Satan still has influence in our world – unbelievers are under his influence so I like to think of myself as an “intruder” or “conspirer”...thus I cannot expect people to listen to me unless I am allowed the keys. 1 Thess 2 (although referring to Paul’s relationship with believers) I think shows that there must be a balance: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (v.8)

??? I figure this was an example of you wanting me to clarify my own thoughts Justin??

One question I have is, what does 1 Thess 2:4 mean: to be “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” ???

Benjamin Ady said...

yeah--but weren't Jesus words and action more along the lines of "love them" (especially those who are most in need of love) than "tell them"? I mean the balance between these two isn't *totally* tilted that way, but it is tilted, isn't it?

Justin said...

Mandy -- Good thinking.

Thanks for the clarification between rights and permission. In many ways, all you are saying is: "Don't be rude or arrogant in your mission." And thats been true since the beginning of time. (As witnesses by Paul before Agrippa)

I've read and heard the 'earn the right to speak' things in emerging church material. And I've wondered about it. I've been nervous about it.

But asking if you can speak; being a humble missionary in culture; not being arrogant or rude; being deferent in all relationships -- these are eternal truths, not ones that have only come in since we live in a post-Christian society.

1 Thess 2:4 is about integrity, right? Before God primarily, and that flows onto Paul's relationship with the Thessalonians -- he doesn't trick them etc. What do you think?

Justin said...

Benjamin -- Yes. Of course. Totally agree.

My point is that we can't just love them, but we need to tell them that God loves them. ie speak the Gospel and not just live it.

Of course, you can't just speak it and not live it. That is a travesty of justice and totally against the purpose and plan of God.

But you can't do the reverse either.

mandy said...

yeah I think that's the same conclusion i'm coming to in regards to living in the post christian era - all the same principles of how we should conduct ourselves applied just as much in the past as they do now...

I still think though that different times do call for different ideas/methods:- the west is really no longer the "christian" west - and many people don't look to the church for answers - I think we need to therefore kindof change the view of our role at times ?? which is maybe where the emerging point of view is coming from?

i guess I was just wondering with 1 Thess 2:4, HOW are we "approved" to be entrusted with the gospel?

sorry justin. I realise I dialogue a lot - it's just my mind won't stop ticking over about this stuff

Justin said...

I still think though that different times do call for different ideas/methods:- the west is really no longer the "christian" west - and many people don't look to the church for answers - I think we need to therefore kindof change the view of our role at times ?? which is maybe where the emerging point of view is coming from?

Yes -- Although I've never thought like this (The West as the Christian West) and neither has anybody I know.

Again, I've read this in EC stuff, and thought -- Yes? And?

I wonder whether a lot of the drive here comes from the US and is an appropriate (?) dislike of the idea of 'moral majority' in the US. And we reject that notion of trying to protect the 'Christian nation' and manifest destiny etc.

... Something I've never felt, and nor has anybody I know.

Justin said...

i guess I was just wondering with 1 Thess 2:4, HOW are we "approved" to be entrusted with the gospel?

OK -- Here is the text:

1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed— God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.

The text doesn't tell us HOW we are approved by God. So we'll have to go elsewhere to find out that. (Because he was commissioned, maybe?)

But the context tells you that their being approved by God meant:

A. That what they did was not done in vain, for, presumably, God is doing it.

B. The message they have is a true one -- so no trickery or falsity was needed.

C. That they could have a boldness, for they were not trying to please humans, but God.

D. It means that Paul and his friends did not pander to people, but to God! (Although that then necessarily meant that he loved them etc, which is what he goes on to say.)

I'm trying to work out what that means re us asking for permission. Maybe since Paul acts for God alone, then he must love and serve people the way God intends: with integrity.