Evangelism

Evangelism as the Key to the Spiritual Disciplines

One of my favorite books, and a book that has greatly impacted my life is Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.  This book opened my eyes to the ways in which God uses the things that we do to make us more Christ like.  It encouraged me to practice these things, and through them I have been changed, and continue to be changed.

Don Whitney hits the nail on the head when he informs readers that God has commanded Christians in 1 Timothy 4:7 to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness”.  We are to be constantly growing in our relationship and understanding of God, and that takes discipline.  It is an ongoing process through which “we can place ourselves in the path of God’s grace and seek Him”.

Dallas Willard, along with having an amazing name, also wrote on the topic of spiritual disciplines.  His central premise of his classic book on the subject is that “we can become like Christ by doing one thing-by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself.”  So it is by doing what Christ did, that we become more like Him.

Both of these books are great on the subject, and I by no means wish to say otherwise.  If you have not read them, you should.  You should also pick up N.T. Wright’s After you Believe.  These three books will change the way you live your life, and you will be forever blessed should you follow their wisdom.

There is one issue that I would like to address shortly today.  Something that God has shown me over the years of my disciplines.

If one were to follow the teaching of these books, their disciplines would look something like the chart below.

Disciplines

As the Christian interacts with each discipline he/she is changed, and shaped, and molded by it.  The interaction with the discipline works to make the Christian more Christ-like.  Each of these works in isolation with each other, and each is of equal value.   Don Whitney’s book is laid out in a format that even encourages this type of understanding.  Each discipline is assigned a chapter, and is giving equal value.  The only exception to this is the idea of Bible intake.  According to Don Whitney taking in God’s Word takes priority over everything else.  Everything else is on equal footing.

Most Christians live their lives with this understanding, though they may not understand that they do.

Over my life I have learned that there is another way to look at the disciples.  In fact, I believe that there is one discipline that is a key to opening the full potential of all others.  That is the key of evangelism.  My rough chart below gives a picture of this idea.

Disciplines 2 (2)

I believe that evangelism is the key to opening the full potential of all of the other disciplines.  I believe that it is through a Great Commission lens that we can open the fullness of what God offers us.  As Dallas Willard stated we become Christ like by “following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself”.  So why did Christ come?  What was his overall style of life?  The Son of Man cam to seek and save that which was lost.  Or, as Christ Himself said in Luke 4:43, “I must evangelize”.

If we truly want to model our lives’ after Christ our primary focus must be to seek and save that which is lost.

Here is where it gets good.

All of the disciplines mentioned above are worthy of our time (to a certain degree) along with many more.  We should each be disciplined and growing.  That is what God has commanded us to do.  If we do each of these, and leave out evangelism though we are doing them for self-serving reasons.  We are focused on ourselves.

If we evangelize our disciplines become tools to shape us so that we can better be used by Christ for His mission on Earth, which is to bring sinners to Himself.

When I evangelize I read my Bible differently, I pray differently, I worship differently, I learn differently, I fast differently.  I do this differently because I do them from a position of being inside God’s will.  I am taking in Scripture with passion knowing that what I read and learn may be used by God to draw someone to Himself.  I pray with passion because I pray for real, lost people and can see their faces and know their names.  I worship differently because I have seen God at work in hopeless situations.  I learn differently so that I can be used by God.

Everything is changed by the practice of the evangelism.

All of the other disciplines fall into place.

Don Whitney teaches that evangelism is often a skipped practice because we are frightened by “the seriousness of evangelism”.  I agree whole heartedly.  When we evangelize we are taking part in the most serious thing imaginable.  We are offering life to the dead.

That seriousness works as a fuel that burns deep and bright.  It forces us to our knees and drives us to the Word of God.  I challenge you to practice the discipline of evangelism knowing that it will change everything about you, bringing you more in line with Christ.

J. W. Willard

 

Why bother with door to door evangelism?

Front_Door-Before

Every Tuesday night a small, but faithful, group meets at my church and heads into the surrounding neighborhoods to knock on doors, and share the Gospel message with anyone who is willing to listen.  We are strategic as to where we go and have a systematic plan to share the Gospel with the entire city of Gladstone.  If someone is not home, or does not have time to talk, we leave a Gospel tract behind.

This small group, from a church of over 1,000 usually numbers around 5 people.

Over the years I have worked with several other churches and their door to door teams and have found a similar turnout.  Churches of hundreds will send out just a handful of people.  In fact, I went to work with one church recently and found myself as the only person.

This type of outreach has obviously fallen out of vogue, and there seems to be little evidence that the church has any plans of picking back up on aggressive intentional evangelism.

So… why do we bother?

Why go where you are not welcome, on behalf of people who don’t care if you go?  Why put yourself in position to be considered crazy by both the saved and the unsaved?  Why put so much effort into a ministry that sometimes appears to bear little fruit?

The answer may not be what you think?

Of course, I could easily say that we are called to so and end the answer.  There is no question that we are to evangelize, and anyone trying to make an argument otherwise does not put much stock into Scripture.  It would be right to simply copy and paste the Great Commission and call it a day, but that wouldn’t be a full answer.  In fact, that wouldn’t even be a good answer.

I have been told countless times that door to door evangelism is not the only way to evangelize.  That evangelism doesn’t just happen on Tuesday night, and I 100% agree with this statement.  Evangelism should be far greater than a single day of the week outreach.  Evangelism should be a day in day out lifestyle for the believer.  Everything we do should have the Gospel as a backdrop.

The idea that evangelism is bigger than a weekly door to door visit, though, is why I think door to door is vital in church ministry, and all Christians should be involved.  It is this weekly commitment that makes the rest of the lifestyle come into place.

Before we explore that idea let’s look at this concept in a different arena of life.  Health.

When most people decide that they want to live a healthy lifestyle they either join a gym or signup for some sort of class at the gym.  The few who don’t will mark on their calendars time that they plan to work out.  If they have a weekly Zumba class (for example) most will understand that this once a week class does not a healthy lifestyle make.  They must do more than work out once a week in order to be healthy.  This once a week class is vital though.  Because of this one class, the rest of the time works around that priority.  Food choices are made differently because of that once a week class.  Other exercise is done because of that class.  People may even park their cars further from the store door because of that class.  In short, that 1 hour class helps to keep the focus through the entire week.  That one hour out of 168 during the week has a drastic impact on who the person is.

Door to door evangelism works in much the same way.  Through the weekly commitment to be in intentional evangelism the person is changed throughout the entire week.  Evangelism becomes easier, and almost second nature.  It becomes what the person is all about.

That one hour commitment changes the prayer life, the devotional life, the worship life and the evangelistic life of the person who commits to doing it.  The entire person, and their priorities, begins to move more in line with God’s will and His commandment in the Great Commission.

There is nothing wrong with lifestyle evangelism.  In fact, that is exactly what we need to be doing.  In order to do this effectively, though, we must return to the days where aggressive, intentional evangelism is promoted widely in the church.  We must get people working in a strategic way together in order to get the Gospel out into the community.

Only then will the members of the church lifestyles change in a way that makes lifestyle evangelism possible.  If there is not an intentional plan of evangelism, it will not happen.  If we are not sharing the Gospel as a strategic group, then the odds of sharing it over the fence or with our friends decreases.

Why do we do door to door?  Because just like one goes to a gym to focus on their lifestyle goals, we to want to focus ours.  I want God’s Commission to be my heart, and in order to do so I must make sure that I am focused on that.  Door to door keeps the focus.

Of course, while doing so when run into people who may never have heard the Gospel otherwise.  We bring a message of life to those who are perishing.

When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?  Put it on your calendar today.  If your church does not have a door to door team, it is time to start one.  If you do not know how I would love to help you begin one.  If your church has one, it is time to join in.

J. W. Willard

Billy Graham, Death, and a Changing Culture

pbilly-graham

Today marks Billy Graham’s 96th birthday.  It is a day where we as a community of faith can celebrate the work that God has done through the hands of one man.  It is a day where we can look to a hero of faith and follow him as he followed Christ.  It is a day where we can hear, and celebrate testimonies of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are a part of the same eternal kingdom because of the preaching of this man.  It is a joyful day.

At the same time it is a day to reflect on the brevity of human life.  On the fact that we all must face death.  On the fact that at 96 Billy Graham is reaching the end of his earthly life.  We look to a hero for many of us and see an old, frail man in failing health.  Someday in the not so distant future we will hear the news that Billy Graham has passed from this earth.  It will be a day of tears and a day of joy.  Bill Graham spoke of this day often;

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

There is another important thought to consider today as we are reminded of the aging of Billy Graham.  It is a question of succession.  Where is the evangelist that will take his place?  Billy Graham comes from a long line of very popular mass evangelists.  Starting with men such as Charles Finney and Elder Jacob Knapp, to men such as D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Mordeaci Ham, and Billy Graham, the mass evangelist has held a place in our culture for a couple hundred years.  Men who were popular not just in the Christian community, but in the community at large.  Men who were listened to by both saved and unsaved individuals.

These great evangelists were able to reach out in a variety messages and speak the Gospel into homes where no Christian lived.  Because of this fact, many came to faith that may have heard the message in no other way.  They were by no means perfect, but the culture turned to them and God used them greatly.

Where is the next man who can do the same?

As of now, he doesn’t exist.  Evangelists still work throughout the land, and the office of the evangelist as a leader in the church is just as relevant as it was when the apostle Paul penned the words of Ephesians 4:11, but the face of the culture has changed.  The community has hardened itself to the words of God, and therefor they have also turned away from any teacher who brings a message from God.  A man such as Billy Graham would no longer be received in the same way.

Billy Graham was a man, placed by God, to be used during a specific season of life in America.  That season has passed.

No longer will mass evangelists be able to get the Gospel message into homes, and lives.  Yet the Great Commission remains.  The message Billy Graham gave his life to preaching, must still go forth.  The messengers now must look different.

What does this mean for the church?

To put it bluntly, the task falls to each Christian.  We are all called to evangelize and get the Gospel message into the world.  We are all called to lead others to Christ.  At one point a single man could come to Kansas City and preach to 40,000 different people 4 days in a row.  Today few would come.  In order to reach those 160,000 people we must go find them where they are.  We must knock on doors and engage them in the streets.  We must take the Gospel message to the highways and byways of the city.  The task is on us.

Of course, it has always resided on the shoulders of the local church, but God used men such as Billy Graham to accomplish His purpose.  Now is the time for Him to use you and me.  We must be faithful to get the message into the world.  We must obey the Great Commission.

Here is the cool part.

The same Holy Spirit that brought power to the messages of Billy Graham and fruit of salvation to his listeners resides in us.  The truth that he preached is the same truth that we preach.  The same power of God is available to us.

In 2004 Billy Graham preached for 4 days in Kansas City to 155,000 people.  During this crusade 16,265 decisions were made (salvation, rededication, response to vocational ministry etc.).  Imagine if we as a church took the Gospel message out to 155,000 people in our city.  Imagine the blessing from God.  Imagine the response.

This is what we as a church are called to do.  No longer can the task fall to one man.  The culture will no longer allow it.  The job is for us to do.  It is time to put our hands to the plow and get on with the task.

On Billy Graham’s 96th birthday we have a lot to consider.  Billy Graham perhaps gives us a gift better than we could give him.  The example of a well lived life in faithful obedience to the Great Commission.  It is time we followed that example.

David, Goliath, and Evangelism

David-Vs-Goliath

Every believer knows the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). The Philistinian giant stood before the army of Israel boldly defying the people of God.  He was a menacing figure who stood more than 9 feet tall and was built like an NFL Defensive Lineman.  His impressive armor was made of beautiful material and weighted as much as 700 pounds.  There is no doubt that he was an impressive sight to behold.  It is true that he lived up to the Hebrew meaning of his name, Splendor.  At his appearance the Bible teaches that the soldiers of Israel were “dismayed and greatly afraid” (17:11)

Enter David. A nobody.  A nothing.  A small boy who had no business on the battlefield.  He was not trained in the art of soldiering.  He was not equipped for battle.  Yet he had incredible faith in God.  He knew that he was of God and that because of that he would prevail.  While soldiers cowered and lost bladder control, a young boy stepped forward to kill the giant.

When David boldly stepped forward in faith one might expect others to do the same. Isn’t that how it works in the movies?  The faith and boldness in one brings out the best in others. That is not what happened, though.  He stepped forward alone, while trained soldiers ran in the opposite direction and cowered in corners (17:24).  David would have been justified for having second thoughts when no others joined him, but he continued forward.

Moving into battle alone was no big deal because his faith in God was strong. He was not alone but had the infinite God of the universe with him.

Is this not the same battle that we find ourselves fighting in regards to evangelism? The Israelites knew that they had been commanded to fight the Philistines and that the Lord was with them, assuring victory in battle (Exodus 23:31) and yet they feared the army of the Philistines.  They had been commanded by God, and yet they delayed obedience out of fear.  We too have been commanded to go into battle with the promise that God is with us assuring victory.  In Matthew 28:19-20 we have a very similar command and promise given.  We are to go into all the world and make disciples and God will be with us even to the end of the age.

Like the Israelites we know what we have been commanded. Like the Israelites few would question that we must obey, but like the Israelites many have delayed obedience out of fear in one way or another.  We are at war, and God has promised us victory, and yet we cower because of the giant that stands before us.

Satan paces before us calling out for us to battle him, and he holds in his hand all that we fear. His weapons are fear, and embarrassment, and lack of knowledge, our time and any other thing that runs through our minds that keeps us from faithfully following God’s command.  He is a giant, and we are nothing.  We don’t stand a chance against him.  He mocks our God, and we let him.

David is our example.

In the face of an unbeatable giant David stood knowing that God promised him victory. He stood and boldly proclaimed, “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Friends, the battle for the souls of men is the LORD’s battle and we have been called into it. We are the soldiers that he has commanded to go into the land and accomplish His will.  We are to be obedient.  Like David, we must boldly step forward and know that God is with us even to the end of the age.

Even if we, like David, step forward and find ourselves alone, we move forward into battle. If no other soul joins in the battle for men’s souls know that God has commanded you to proceed alone.

Goliath was not killed by a stone and a sling. He was dead long before that.  He was killed by one boy’s faith in God and His promises.  The command has been given, and the orders are clear.  Whether alone, or with an army we are to “Go therefore…”

J.W. Willard

Teaching them all things

teach evangelism

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

Matthew 28:19-20 has long been used by much of the church as the drum beat for world missions. Although there are 4 other Great Commission passages, these two verses are more widely used in church than the others (at least in my experience).  The clarity of the message leaves little wiggle room in understanding what is needed to be done.  We are to take the Gospel to the whole world, baptize those who respond with faith to the message, and teach them.

I have read this verse countless times, heard hundreds of sermons on it, and have even preached it myself, and yet today as I looked to this passage something I had not considered before came to mind.

A great deal of ink has been used working to have a greater understanding of what “Go therefore” means, and how it should be applied to the life of the church. Pastors have preached to and pleaded with congregations to obey this Great Commission.  Further ink has been used in regards to teaching, and baptism.  What do these look like, and how do we practice them.  And yet through all of the years, today I realized that I have never seen the teachings of the Great Commission brought fully together.

If the Great Commission calls us to make disciples (win disciples would be a better translation of μαθητευω, but that is for a different post) and it also calls us to teach them, should not we be teaching them to make disciples?  Does the text not demand that the teaching of evangelism must happen?

Methodology of evangelism aside, it appears clear that in order to fulfill the Great Commission one must not only be practicing personal evangelism, but one must also be teaching personal evangelism. If we truly believe that Scripture must be read and taught from its context, there appears to be no way to separate evangelism and teaching.  In fact, immediate context would show that in the teaching of all things evangelism would be at the forefront of things to teach.  The command to evangelize exists inside the same statement as the command to teach all that has been commanded.

So today it hit me, can we call ourselves a Great Commission church if we are not teaching on personal evangelism? Can we call ourselves a Great Commission church if we are not teaching that every disciple of Christ must evangelize in some way?

Matthew 28:19-20 seems to point out that the answer to that question is ‘no’. If we are to follow this command the practice and teaching of evangelism needs to be at the forefront of what we do.  It cannot be a token thing done by some of the church in backrooms once in a great while.  The practice AND teaching of evangelism needs to be front and center.

J. W. Willard

A Prayer for Boldness

In November of 2001 I found myself living a religious lifestyle.  I was beginning to acquire a head knowledge of who Christ was, but I had yet to realize that a personal relationship with Christ was needed.  There is a vast difference between, ‘All have sinned and Christ died as the offering for the sins of man’, and ‘I am a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.  Christ died for my sins’.  I knew of the Savior, yet I did not personally know the Savior.

That all changed when a group of kids (I was working in a middle school) introduced me to the book Left Behind.  While reading through the pages of this book I came across the pastor Bruce Barnes and related to him in many ways.  Through the testimony of this fictional character I understood my need to place my faith in Christ and I did so late one evening in Clearview City, Kansas.  Although I will probably never meet Tim LaHaye or Jerry B. Jenkins this side of heaven I have an eternal gratitude towards them and their ministry.  I no longer believe in a pretrib rapture of the church, but I still love the books because of how God used them to point me to Christ.

This love for the Left behind Series draws me back to the books from time to time.  I usually end up reading them about every other year.  This year, as the new movie based on the books hit the big screens, I found myself drawn to reading them again.  Wednesday of the week I knocked out book one and will probably finish the series in about a week or two.

As I was reading through book one this time around I found a prayer that called out to me.  A prayer for boldness and courage in the sharing of the Gospel.

God, fill me with courage, with power, with whatever I need to be a witness.  I don’t want to be afraid anymore.  I don’t want any longer.  I don’t want to worry about offending.  Give me a persuasiveness rooted in the truth of your Word.  I know that it is your Spirit that draws people, but use me.  I want to reach Chloe.  I want to reach Hattie.  please, Lord.  Help me.

As I read this it struck me how much I need to pray like this.  To pray with urgency.  To pray will a willingness to give up anything that has to do with me.  To pray for a selfless look to those around me.  To pray with specific people in mind.

Although, as I have stated I do not believe in a pretrib rapture of the church, would it not be amazing to live such as this.  To live with a daily understanding that Christ was returning soon.  Putting aside all things that do not matter in eternity.  To focus only on people and lost souls.  To live understanding that you are living on the front lines of a battle for the souls of men.  To live everyday in light of eternity.

I know I have a long ay to go, but perhaps a prayer such as this is the first step in the right direction.

The Power of a Testimony

Many of us spend our lives surrounded by “Christians”.  We go to church with them, we go to school with them, and we even work alongside them.  How do we know they are Christians though?  How do we know they have been bought with the blood of Christ?  How do we know they have confessed with their mouth, and believed in their heart?  Speaking for myself I have to admit that many times I just assume.

Each Sunday I shake hands with many people that I know for a fact are saved, but I also shake hands and talk to people who I don’t know for certain.  I have no idea where they are at spiritually.  They are in church with me (some of them have been for years), though, so I assume that they are in Christ.  Assume being the key word.

Perhaps I am shaking hands with an unbeliever, or a person who has never truly understood what Christ did.  They look pretty, and sound pretty, but if we got down to it perhaps they are coming to church to stay on God’s good side in order to get into heaven.  Those “Christians” at work and school, maybe the same is true of them.  Perhaps some of the Christians we know are simply not saved.

Even though it may be true that we are walking around with some people who are not actually saved, we can’t walk around assuming that the entire church is unsaved, and try to convert all of the Saints.  That would be ridiculousness.  Most of them are.  Yet we have to get to those who are not, in order to tell them what Christ has done for them.  We have to warn them of the coming judgment.

How do we go about doing this though?  How do we go about finding the evangelism opportunities amongst our Christian friends, church family, coworkers, and acquaintances?  How do we transition to a Gospel conversation in situations like this, without driving crazy the majority who know Christ personally?

I have never really known the answer to this, until it struck me today.

We need to share testimonies.

You know.  That amazing story about how God rescued a sinner such as yourself.  The most important moment of your life.  Others have one of those as well, and it’s the most amazing moment of their lives.

Why do we not share these stories with each other more often?  Why do we not ask each other about theirs?  It’s the most amazing moment of our lives, and yet if someone asked me about the testimonies of even those I consider my closest friends, I have to admit that I don’t know them.  For some crazy reason the story has never come up.

If we asked each other the story behind their salvation more often, not only would we knit better friendships with those around us, we would also have the chance to find those who have no story.  The ones who have no idea what you are talking about.  The ones who live in the midst of messengers of Christ, that have never received the message.

And it’s such an easy question.  ‘Could you tell me about the miracle that happened in your life when the God of the universe reached into your heart and changed it forever?’   What a simple question.  Step back and wait though, the answer will blow you away.  I have heard hundreds of salvation stories in my life, and they never get old.  Never.

I plan to start asking to hear more of them.  Perhaps God will use me to reach people so they can have their own story along the way.  If nothing else though, I will get to hear about how God worked some of the greatest miracles!  I will get to celebrate the reason that Christ came to this earth.  To save sinners such as us, so that we can tell others what an amazing miracle He did in our lives.

Naked in the Cold

This morning I woke up and began to prepare to take the kids to the bus stop for school.  I looked at the thermometer and noticed that it was a brisk 16 degrees, and the wind was blowing strong.  According to the news the wind-chill was in the single digits.  Needless to say, it was cold.

In order to go out to the bus stop, even for just a few minutes I put on my thickest coat, my hat with ear flaps and my gloves.  I took every effort to remain warm.  I had my children do the same.  We prepared for the weather that was outside the door.

I never would have thought to go into the cold world naked.  I may not be the smartest man in the world, but I know that going naked into the cold would never work.  If I had, though, I would have rushed back inside almost instantaneously and it would be a long time before I went out again.

You may find this entire line of thought silly, but for most of us this is exactly how we approach Evangelism.  We do little to prepare ourselves during our day to day life, and in a moment of conviction we venture into the cold world to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are unprepared for the weather outside the door.

We of course know a couple of verses, and maybe (or maybe not) we say a short prayer before going out, and we can stumble our way though the Gospel message.  If anything deeper than that is required we do not have the tools to engage.  In many ways this is like going into a driving snow storm in shorts and a T-Shirt.  We have some clothes on, but we have not taken the time to fully dress for the weather.

It is little wonder that most Christians share the Gospel quickly and run back inside, regretting going out in the first place.  The cold was so great, and they were so unprepared, it will take them a long time to get the guts to go back out.  If they go back out at all.

Who can blame them though?  If I ran outside naked I wouldn’t go back out either.  In fact, I have to applaud the effort since I know the guts it took to do so were great.  Very few Christians even make it that far.

What would happen though if the Christian daily spent time in deep Bible intake (not just skim reading for mileage), and prayer?   The Christian would then venture into the cold world with a far greater covering.  The depth of the Christians spiritual growth would be the coat, pants, hat, and gloves.  They would be better prepared for the cold world that awaits them.

This doesn’t happen quickly or easily though.  Unlike bundling up for the cold these must be put on over time and they grow in thickness and effectiveness as the Christian grows in the Lord.  The longer the Christian truly practices Scripture intake and deep prayer the better prepared he/she will be for evangelism.  It may still be cold outside, and it probably will still be uncomfortable, but unlike for the naked Christian the job will be possible.

When evangelism is hard, and seems like an impossible task perhaps the Christian should not think that evangelism is too hard.  Perhaps they should consider their devotional life to see if they are practicing it as they should, or even practicing it at all.

We have been commanded to venture into the cold.  We better make sure we are prepared to do so…

J.W. Willard

A Fool for Christ’s sake

As I was going about my errands today I crossed the path of a familiar sight on the streets of many cities this time of year.  People dressed cheaply as the Statue of Liberty, dancing upon street corners, twirling signs, and waving manicly at passing cars hoping to entice others to enter the Liberty Tax office and have their taxes done.  A better way to describe this might be, people being paid almost nothing to dance on street corners in the freezing cold looking like fools. 

As I watched this young man twirl and wave I wondered to myself who would do such a thing.  Who would put aside all pride in order to act in such a way?  Who would do it on a street corner for all to see?  Who would be willing to act this foolish?

Image

It was at this point that the words of the Apostle Paul come to mind in 1 Corinthians 4:10 when he tells the church that “we are fools for Christ’s sake”.  We are to be so different from the world around us that it would appear as foolishness.

Lest we think that this is an isolated idea the apostle makes several other mentions of the foolishness of not only who we as Christians should be but of the message we preach as perceived by the world around us.

  • “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
  • “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

As I look into the church today I see very little of this foolishness.  The Gospel is of course the same in true Bible preaching churches and it is still foolishness to the world around us.  The Christians who have entrusted this message though appear far from foolish.  In fact, most Christians I know, myself included, are hard to distinguish from the world.  We are ‘good’, moral people in appearance but no different than the ‘good’ lost people around us.  We, as individuals, are no longer boldly proclaiming the message and doing whatever it takes to see others saved.

My prayer is that we would no longer be chameleons to the world, but instead our words and our actions would make us stand out.  I pray that we would boldly proclaim the Gospel to the world in every way possible.  That we would truly be fools for Christ’s sake.

Of course, a note must be inserted here that we are not to be ridiculous simply for the sake of being so.  We should not do foolish things simply to look foolish.  We should instead focus on being unashamedly, and boldly proclaiming Christ’s message to the world, despite what people may think of us for doing so.  We should not worry what the neighbors, or the family, or the friends will think.  We just do our job to be faithful to the Great Commission.

The church needs to stop blending in as pedestrians walking along the street of life.  Instead we need to take our cue from the Liberty Tax man and do whatever we can to entice as many people to safety inside.  There is no hope apart from the Gospel, and we have been entrusted with that message.  Let’s get foolish and proclaim it!

J.W. Willard