Sunday, October 2, 2011

He's Real!

One of the things churches encourage you to do is determine what your gifts are so you can use them to serve God and the people around you. And no matter what kind of gift-determining workshop or quiz I take, mine always comes up the same: evangelism. If you don’t speak “Christianese,” that means telling people about Jesus. And, of course, the first thoughts that leap to my mind are of missionaries in the jungle... and the guys at UNC in the pit yelling out sermons... Neither of which I am likely to be – I mean, I hate public speaking, and as for third world missions... I don’t even like camping! 

So what does it mean for me? I mean, Jesus himself told us to tell everyone... “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” I guess you could argue that he was just talking to the disciples, but I feel the weight of it as well... 

A Pit preacher at UNC
I mean, whether Jesus was talking to to me or not, I don’t really feel I should keep such great news to myself. Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” “the Great I Am,” “The Bread of Life” “the Living Water”... I know these are just words to a lot of people, but in my life who Jesus was and is, has made the all the difference. So, why would I not want to spread that around? I mean, say you were dying of thirst and I knew where the watering hole was... I hope I would leap at the chance to share this vital information.

My way of sharing, I guess, is a bit more ... casual ... than, say, a missionary or a Pit preacher. Not that I am against these ways... I have heard a lot of stories about people being saved in so many crazy ways, that I can’t really poo-poo any way the gospel gets out there. And missionaries are a vital, exciting part of the God’s family. All over the world they are running clinics, building schools, helping people with AIDS, planting churches, sharing the good news... saving lives, saving souls.  And with regard to methods and sincerity, Paul said he didn’t care what people’s motives are who preach the gospel - as long as the gospel is preached! And as long as we are human, I don’t believe we are ever going to have pure motives. We can just do the best we can.

He's real!
But, back to how I personally go about trying to fulfill the “great commission” of evangelism...  I actually don’t really have a way other than just being who I am in front of people. In “Christianese,” I think that’s what they call “Incarnational” – living God's love and forgiveness out in your body – and hopefully, pouring it out onto others. I don’t know how this “incarnational” life looks to others, but it’s really all I’ve got to share: with me you get front row seats to see a person saved by grace alone and not be any virtue or activity of her own... A person who succeeds sometimes, fails a LOT, but whose life exclaims, “He’s real!”

Actually, this way of mine – it’s not solely “in the body.” As anyone who has ever worked with me can tell you, pieces of the gospel often spill out of my mouth in conversation – not if we’re talking about work, of course, but in the natural way people who spend all day together might carry their conversation into the personal and philosophical realm. Of course, you know this too, if you’ve read very many of my blog posts. I didn’t set out to write a “Christian” blog, it’s just the lens that I see the world through, and if I’m really exercising my big mouth, it’s just going to come out. As our pastor says, you’ve really got to put a name on it, or how will people know?!

Bill Mallonee
I know I’ve probably offended bunches of people just be being me, and at this point, I’ll extend a blanket apology to you all... but in my defense, I was just being myself! If I were honing in on people as targets of purposeful Christ-sharing, well, I’m pretty sure that would piss them off even more. Instead, I’m more or less living out this song by Bill Mallonee called Double Cure, about a man who, sick of himself, throws his lot in with the Everlasting... then out of his joy and relief urges everyone to spread the news... to lead others to the “double cure,” that is, being freed from the guilt and the power of sin: “So go and call your neighbor/proceed with all due haste/go grab your wife and sweet family/see there is no time to waste. We’re gonna drink out of that fountain/on a hill called double cure/i wanna show you my allegiance Lord/yes i wanna be a son of Yours.” It’s a most excellent song, and you can see the man himself singing it here. This particular version is missing the ringing guitar intro that the studio recording has, but it’s still a great song.

As I think about it, my way is both easier and also more difficult... I don’t have to go to the other side of the world and live in a hut, or expose myself to the horrors of public speaking... but I do have to live every single day in the presence of God and man as one who belongs to the God who is LOVE and GRACE. And, as I’ve written before, how to actually let Jesus drive is one of the mysteries of life to me. But that’s just another way I confess that I don’t have it together... another way I present a good failure model, right?

And of course, I may never get “credit” for leading anyone to Christ – not that anyone’s counting ... are they? I remember being in a class with an Intervarsity leader who began a sentance this way, “When I am leading people to Christ...” and I thought, “What?” To my knowledge I have never actually led a person to Christ. I mean, people I know have come to Christ, but I can’t pinpoint any one conversation or event in which I was involved that caused this to happen. All I did was be myself in full view.

Anyway, that’s what kind of evangelism I’m all about. It’s easy. It’s hard. It’s all I can do.

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