Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Christians Must Speak the Truth About Jesus

In my last post, I talked about being willing to speak the truth in love. That's true in more than just what we usually consider when speaking of interpersonal relationships.

Christians are commissioned by Jesus to proclaim the good news (or the gospel) about Him and the need all people have to trust in Him. We are to let people know that Jesus teaches that He is the only means by which we can receive reconciliation and eternity with God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran theologian and pastor martyred as a result of his opposition to Nazism, spoke of the love that must compel followers of Christ to fulfill our commission in another book I've been reading (actually, rereading) lately, The Cost of Discipleship. He cites Matthew 10:11-15, in which Christ commissions the first apostles to spread the gospel:
Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 
He points out that the disciples' greeting as they enter the houses in which they stay in the communities to which they go is to be simple: "Peace to this house" (Luke 10:5).

Then Bonhoeffer writes this powerful paragraph:
This is no empty formula, for it immediately brings the power of the peace of God on those who are "worthy of it." Their proclamation is clear and concise. They simply announce that the kingdom of God has drawn nigh, and summon [people] to repentance and faith. They come with the full authority of Jesus of Nazareth, they deliver a command and make an offer with the support of the highest credentials. And that is all. The whole message is staggering in its simplicity and clarity, and since the cause brooks no delay, there is no need for them to enter into any further discussion to clear the ground or persuade their hearers. The King [Jesus] stands at the door, and he may come in at any moment. Will you bow down and humbly receive him, or do you want him to destroy you in his wrath? Those who have ears to hear have heard all there is to hear. They cannot detain the messengers any longer, for they must be off to the next city. If, however, men refuse to hear, they have lost their chance, the time of grace is passed, and they have pronounced their own doom. "To-day if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7). That is evangelical preaching. Is this ruthless speed? Nothing could be more ruthless than to make [people] think there is still plenty of time to mend their ways. To tell [people] that the cause is urgent, and that the kingdom of God is at hand is the most charitable and merciful act we can perform, the most joyous news we can bring. The messenger cannot wait and repeat it to every man in his own language. God's language is clear enough. It is not for the messenger to decide who will hear and who will not, for only God knows who is "worthy"; and those who are worthy will hear the Word when the disciple proclaims it. But woe to the city and woe to the house which rejects the messenger of Christ. They will incur a dreadful judgement; Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities of unchastity and perversion, will be judged more graciously than those cities of Israel who reject the word of Jesus, but the man who rejects the word of salvation has thrown away his last chance. To refuse to believe in the gospel is the worst sin imaginable, and if that happens the messengers can do nothing but leave the place. They go because the Word cannot remain there. They must recognize in fear and amazement both the power and the weakness of the Word of God. But the disciples must not force any issue contrary to or beyond the word of Christ. Their commission is not a heroic struggle, a financial pursuit of a grand idea or a good cause. That is why they stay only where the Word stays, and if it is rejected they will be rejected with it, and shake off the dust from their feet as a sign of the curse which awaits that place. This curse will not harm the disciples, but the peace they brought returns to them...
We Christians must speak the truth about Jesus. If we love as Jesus commands and calls us to love, then it would be the height of arrogance and selfishness for us not to invite others to repent and believe in Christ.

So, the next time someone makes a face when the word "evangelism" comes up, don't be intimidated. It's a good word! Based on the New Testament Greek word, euangelion, meaning good news. When Christians evangelize, they're simply broadcasting the most important news anyone could ever receive from the one and only King of the universe. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. As the apostle Paul writes in the New Testament book of Romans:
...I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith...(Romans 1:16-17)
Christians who read this: Share the news about Jesus and let the chips fall where they may!

Other friends who read this: Please turn to Jesus, your God, Savior, and best friend, and trust in Him as your only hope in this life or the next. Because that's exactly who He is!

No comments: