My Response

Here are some principles that we can apply in relation to yesterday’s example of evangelism. For starters, read “soulster’s” comment to yesterday’s blog. It summarizes many of my feelings to a T.

Christians need to embrace their humanity once again. Christians often have this complex that puts them on the inside and everyone else on the outside (I understand there is an element of this to Christianity, but not nearly to the extent that most Christians make it), and this has caused many Christians to completely forsake their commonality with most of the world. We approach evangelism this way, I think. We approach people as if we have nothing other than the gospel to communicate to them, when in fact we are flawed humans just like them. Jesus was fully human and fully God. He partied with sinners. He encountered prostitutes who all but threw themselves at him. He called out 12 smelly commoners to start his church. Jesus understood the concept of embracing humanity, and so must we.

We must stop selling Christianity, and start being Christ. Christianity is not equivilent to a vacuum cleaner on the Home Shopping Network. It is not a list of creeds to which we sign our name. It is a signing over of one’s life to follow the Master, Jesus Christ. We make him our Lord, and not just our Savior. Our decisions are affected by our allegiance to Christ. We lose everything to follow Him. With this in mind, is this kind of life something we can “sell” people in 2 minutes? Does it really take just one conversation to make an obedient disciple of Jesus? Maybe, but I would argue that is rare.

Let’s re-discover Jesus as a radical subversive who turned a society on its head. Is it possible that we’ve innoculated many not-yet-Christians to the gospel because of all our “God-talk”? I saw Kirk Cameron on Scarborough Country last year, and he was supposed to be talking about the reaction to The Passion of the Christ. To every question Joe sent his way, Kirk launched into a concise presentation of why Jesus died on the cross. He kept coming back to his witnessing routine. I’m sure he was really proud of his evangelism on national TV. But could it be true that people really don’t have a good concept of Jesus today because we have beat a few moments of his life into the ground? For instance, what does “Jesus died on the cross for your sins” really mean to most people anymore? I (and authors Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch) propose that we rediscover the incarnation in a new light. That we start looking at Christ as the radical, underground subversive that he was, and begin telling others of this Jesus. Jesus died on the cross, yes. But his life of countering culture, dodging death, avoiding crowds and authorities, and training leaders is what gives his death credibility. Everyone wants to be a part of something big, something underground — they are more likely to follow the subversive Jesus than the shiny, happy Jesus.

In embracing our humanity, let’s approach people from on the inside. Like Soulster posted, what if some of the Christian school kids enrolled in the public school and began relationships with not-yet-Christians instead of walking from the “Holy Ground” to the “Heathen Campus.” Can you imagine being a Christian (missionary) in the public school and seeing the Christian school folks passing out tracts and confronting your friends on your turf? You’ve been quietly making changes in your circle of friends, and here come some people who claim to be able to reach your friends better than you can. I would cringe if I saw this happening. Evangelism ought to happen from on the inside, and the incarnation of Christ ought to serve as our prime example. Jesus “became flesh” in order to reach humanity, and so must we. Relationship and community are usually central in coming to the point that people are ready to have a meaningful conversation about eternity, and many of our common evangelism practices simply do not allow for this to happen. If you want to read about this kind of thing in action, my friend Cody is doing it.

Is fear/guilt the very best way to make a disciple? I don’t think so. We obviously cannot ignore the reality of Hell, but the avoidance of Hell is not the reason why we follow Christ. Why would we call God loving if the only reason we followed him was because He is holding us gingerly over the pit of Hell, threatening to drop us at a moment’s notion? This Jonathan Edwards stuff, in addition to being misunderstood by Christians and not-yet-Christians alike, should be mostly replaced with a presentation of a story so much bigger than ourselves that people can participate in. What’s more, holding people up to the flames of Hell causes people to simply make a decision, not give over their lives in slavery (most of the time). It’s like signing on the dotted line that you agree with the above statement about Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, etc. Our faith is holistic, not cognitive. We must follow Christ with our lives, compelled to make him our Lord because of his great love for us and the story in which we find ourselves. Plus, what does Hell really mean to someone who doesn’t believe it exists (like many, many Americans)?

May we follow Christ into the world, embracing our humanity and offering people participation in the story that will end with every tribe, toungue and nation represented at the Lamb’s Banquet. I hope this little case study has been helpful to you. Now I want to hear more of your reactions to yesterday’s post and today’s response. What am I missing? What did I get wrong?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: