Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Often times, there is too much noise in Christianity. We argue and bicker over proper theology and how the Church ought to be run. There are those of us who are more vocal than others in these aspects, myself included, but often times, it takes away from our purpose as Christians.
But what is our purpose as Christians? I guarantee you, if you ask 10 Christians this question, you'll get 10 different answers. There is nothing wrong with that; these opinions are just different emphasis on equally important issues. If you ask a person who subscribes to a more "evangelistic" denomination, they will probably say something along the lines of, "To go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit." This is an important part of Christianity, but in my understanding, not our goal. My interpretation is that our goal as Christians is to allow Christ to manifest Himself in us, so that we can allow God's kingdom to be built on earth. This is not to say that the former is a terrible approach, but rather, that when we are doing the will of God, people want to follow.
The line is fine, but it is there. As a result, the different emphasis often causes disputes among the Christian community. Those among us who are more evangelical get upset at the ones who are more mainline and claim that we don't disciple enough. Those of us who are more mainline, like me, accuse those who are more evangelical that they don't allow God to do the work that only God can do. These two sides don't really see eye to eye all the time, but they are equally valid and equally important. There can be consequences to each, however, if one can not see these as equally important. For example, if we don't go and make disciples, we are ignoring an important role of the Church, commanded by Christ. The "how" makes all the difference though.
Many people ignore the man standing on the soapbox with a megaphone telling us to repent. We laugh at those with signs, picketing and telling others they are going to hell. We throw away tracts, handed out by people who really want us to know God in the same way they do. These, in my opinion, are terrible ways of evangelizing. The way I evangelize is by letting God do the work for me -- after all, I am a vessel -- I'm a tool to be used by God.
Everything we do, everything we say, everywhere we go is directed by God. In humility, we simply surrender to his will.
God's revealed Christ to me. This is why I am a believer. He's shown me that Christ's way works.
This isn't about heaven and hell, folks. This is about the here and now. This is what Christ tells us to live for -- allowing Him to create heaven on earth, because we don't want to see others go through hell on earth.
So lets think about this for a second. What makes hell on earth? Bitterness, resentment, jealousy, gluttony, murder, deceitfulness, disease, disobedience, injustice, hatred, and all these things that separate us from God.
What makes heaven on earth then? Well, we can start by the fruit of the Spirit as read in Galatians. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. And the fruit of the spirit is not limited to this either. Humility is another one for example.
But all of these are birthed by the Holy Spirit. This is not of our own doing. The only part we play in this is our willingness to be used by God.
So though some may read my blog and say things like, "Why can't more Christians be like you?", to that I would say,
I don't want Christians to be like me. I'm terrible, through and through. But what causes you to ask me this question is what you see in me: the work of the living Jesus Christ, our God and Savior. These are the things he does to me through His Holy Spirit. I simply obey -- sometimes. I'm not perfect as nobody is. And it is this that is my only proof that God came to us in the form of man, died, rose from death, ascended into heaven, and gave us His Holy Spirit. It's not by what I do, but by what He does in me. I can't love perfectly on my own, but God certainly can -- and it is the Christians He chooses to use to show this love. Some, unfortunately, are not open to His guidance, though.
This is why I don't push God in others faces. First of all, God is at work in everyone's lives. We call this prevenient grace. It is our responsibility to respond to this grace. Some have chosen not to. I've chosen to respond to this. Some have not yet responded to this, but will. But this is all in God's guidance, not our own.
So I'd love to see people come to know the Christ who has changed the world and continues to do so through us. But this doesn't come with force, threatening, annoying, or anything like that. Nor does this come from pamphlets passed out, soapbox sermons, door-to-door witnessing, or picketing. This comes from the work Christ does in us, and in return, Christ does the work of the Kingdom through us, to make His world possible.
What do you think defines evangelism? Who does the work of evangelism, man or God?