In Zero Dark Thirty, the movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, there is this scene with the brilliant Mark Strong where he address’ the key group of Intelligence operatives charged with apprehending Osama. They where not making much progress in their hunt and his message to them, in no nice words, was simple; there was no other secret group with the same mission, it was just them and they were failing.
Some weeks or months ago we had a sermon in a similar vein on our role as Christians in evangelism and the bottom line was we too are engaged in a high priority mission and like the folks after bin Laden, we were failing. Of course things changed for the CIA and they eventually did get their man and all ended well for the USA but our mission has different dynamics. It’s generally never ending but one thing is for sure, there is no secret angelic seal team six waiting to swoop in a few days before the trumpet sounds, it’s just us. God could raise sticks and stones or, even in a humorous twist, fish to fish for men but no, it’s still just us.
I for one haven’t been doing a good job when it comes to witnessing and I hope God gives me the grace to improve but the fact remains that the whole process of sharing the word is met by some level of struggle by believers in general. Now we don’t need reminding why this topic is important. Just a certain carpenter giving us a simple order but the main issue here is why we seem to be failing short and in some instances being comfortable with the current state of affairs. I sometimes get the impression that our approach to the whole process of evangelism may be a tad wrong.
Some “old” folks have concerns with the way we kind of re-package the word to get unbelievers and sometimes I feel their just being old because a little Ingenuity is welcome with us trying to be Y2K compliant and all but u feel their concerns are worth looking into. Looking at Paul in acts, he did not embrace their culture of idolatry in order to make people of Athens comfortable; instead he was aware of it and took time to understand it. By studying the inscriptions on the idols and reading their philosophies, he used those things to tell the people about Christ and to call them into a different way of life. There is a big difference between using understanding of the people to getting the word to them and remodeling it to suit their ways and essentially make them comfortable. We just falling short of treating unbelievers like clients whose needs we need to meet. The word we like to throw around is “relevant”. The word of God will forever be relevant, hell, the word DEFINES relevant. It’s not about modeling church and evangelism in a way that people can connect but like all things in life, sticking to basics, following the ancient path.
“If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don’t get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism, but deception.”
― John Piper #WORD
Speaking of basics, Jesus in the book of Matthew starts the great commission by saying “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go.” emphasis on the go. We organize invitational prayer meetings, we stage concerts or film shows and In effect we are just short of sitting on our bums waiting for the folks out there to come begging for the word and no that just is not going to happen. Jesus, the standard himself, didn’t set up a shop somewhere and invite everyone to come out for a revival every Friday night. He went out to where the people were. He sent His disciples out, untrained and confused as they all were, to spread His message so who are we to do any different. Would it be too much to ask if once a month we organize a meet somewhere in town so the chances of reaching the world with the WORD are increased? It’s a thought that we should seriously consider because at the end of the day, when we plan programs at church, it’s the same members who come and funny enough we have altar calls at the end. We all enjoy some good shows close to home but I daresay there are some souls out there that could do with a little salvation.
I believe it is important that believers understand that the lives we live are the first glimpse of the word or even the only glimpse the word for the guys out there. First impressions are everything and getting that wrong may create mental block in some poor sinners mind and then the devil starts to do backflips in joy and we don’t want that. Evangelism is not something we are supposed to do as a duty but something we are supposed to be also as a duty. If we ourselves have been absorbed into the character and values of Christ, then by living our lives, we are immersing others into that same Jesus. Simple enough. We are the bible others read and we should understand that and act accordingly…again back to basics.
The folks after Osama Bin Laden did get him as we all know but how successful we are in our not so exciting quest depends on us. Take a sample of Christian converts around and I am betting most of them changed not after receiving the gospel from a TV sermon, or a piece of Christian literature, or the pastor in the pulpit but from one-on-ones from Christians like you and me who actually took the time to share the word like Jesus always did and such acts are always backed not only by faith that the person may change but also by love for the sinner which I believe makes all the difference.
I will end this piece by again quoting Mr. Piper who couldn’t have said it better;
“Don’t wait for a feeling or love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father, and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps in evangelism because you love God. It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God.”
― John Piper
I daresay that’s reason enough and we have to be up and doing. Scientist say there is about 5 – 10 minutes to doomsday and they have set the doomsday clock accordingly. I’ ll be more generous and give us 30 minutes; thirty to zero dark and we need to back up when it comes to witnessing, I need to back up when it comes to witnessing and time is running out for those thirsting for salvation.