One key question in evangelism used to be this: “If you were to die tonight and come before God and he should ask, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would you say?” Continue reading “If you were to die tonight”
In my second podcast, I talk about basic discipleship and what EVANGELISM means.
When Jesus commissioned the 72 to go proclaim the Kingdom, he made an interesting observation. The harvest is huge. “It’s bigger than you can imagine.”
His command isn’t to go “find” harvest. It’s to pray for more workers.
This isn’t such a hard thing for believers in other countries to understand. In many countries where their faith puts a spotlight on them and targets them, they still live in the power of the Spirit and they keep seeing harvest.
In our nation, it’s a worker problem. It’s getting people who say they believe in the Kingdom to actually get engaged in Kingdom activity. We spend a lot of time and energy arguing about what that “Kingdom activity” is, but we spend far less energy on just acting on behalf of the Kingdom.
It’s not a harvest problem in America. It’s a worker problem.
We need not pray for more converts. We DO need to pray for more believers who will understand the work of the Kingdom.
Here is the scenario: a church planting effort in my neck of the woods (NE Minneapolis), so a viable business model could be explored. “Viable” is something that can be discussed.
Minneapolis, priding itself on local consumers and local ideas, could use one last “independent” bookstore. So, we create one, like it’s the “last independent bookstore” on the planet, but we call it: “Til the Apocalypse: A bookstore that will be here til the world ends.” We feature used, new, local, author readings, comic books, coffee… etc. Out of that we keep it “closed” on Sunday mornings so we can have a church service.
Who’s with me? 😉
The growth and expansion of the Church is never tied to our comfort. The first expansion of the church in Acts came in a time of persecution. Philip found himself in Samaria (Acts 8) as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem. But persecution wasn’t a reason to quit. They kept proclaiming.
Philip was one of the “minor” characters of the Acts story that show those who make the way. He preaches to Samaritans, which were despised by “real” Jews. Revival breaks out. Then, he finds himself on an empty road while a coach makes its way toward him. There he encounters a true Gentile and preaches the gospel.
Two things out of Acts 8 stand out to me:
1. We have no idea about persecution in the Western Church. None. Zero.
We have people who don’t like us. We have people who disagree with us and might call us bigots. We have some rules and laws that make sharing faith difficult at times… maybe. But persecuted? No. And we have no idea.
Ideologies are shifting rapidly. Christian beliefs are being marginalized quickly, at a faster rate than I anticipated (although I did sense this shift about 11-12 years ago). But persecuted? We don’t know it. Will we? Maybe. But right now? Let’s not kid ourselves.
2. Philip is a great example of simply joining what God is doing.
Philip DID know persecution, and he kept right on proclaiming the gospel. Wherever he landed, he found God already at work. We sometimes have an erroneous belief that “God comes with us” in a way that really says, “I’m here, so NOW God is here, and aren’t you glad I showed up so good things can NOW happen?”
Let’s understand that we carry the presence of God, but God doesn’t “show up” when WE show up. What we need to see is that when we arrive at a place we will find God already at work. Us being in a particular spot is already an indication that God was at work before we got there.
Check the egos at the door, folks.
We are NOT persecuted… and we are not the great hope of the world…
Let’s join what God is already doing. Even if that road is tough and possibly lonely.
And it will be said:
“Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” (Isa. 57:14, NIV)
Get rid of the obstacles. If I can get myself out of the way, it’s a good possibility people just may see the ravishing beauty of Jesus. I pray that in the lives of my friends.
I ran into someone the other night I consider a friend and who I pray for consistently. I left the conversation uplifted yet again, but my heart was crying out, “Lord, please get me out of the way so she sees you! I don’t want any issues to be so great that she can’t see you!”
When we come face to face with the beauty of Jesus, his work can then be done. Repentance will flow. It’s his kindness that leads to repentance. If I get out of the way, there is an opportunity for people to see Jesus.
Make the road clear. Get out of the way. I can’t make it about ME.
“The power of the gospel lies not in the offer of a new spirituality or religious experience, not in the threat of hellfire (certainly not in the threat of being “left behind”), which can be removed if only the hearer checks the box, says this prayer, raises a hand, or whatever, but in the powerful announcement that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that God’s new world has begun.”
— NT Wright, Surprised by Hope