Once we make our way through doubt, come to understand the gospel story and saving faith in the risen Christ, these questions arise: How do we practice the resurrection? What difference does it make in you and me? How do we live this new, or raised, life?
The last lines of Matthew’s Gospel belong to Jesus himself. Believers in the resurrection cherish them because the final words of their Savior explain how to live the resurrected life. After his resurrection, and just before his ascension to the Father, Jesus tells his disciples how to be fruitful and multiply with their new, abundant life. He describes a life characterized by a new authority, a new identity, and a new mission.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20
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Let’s face it. As Christians, we all know we are supposed to share our faith. Most of us have heard countless sermons on the importance of evangelizing. But . . . most of us don’t take the time to do it. Or we do, but not nearly as much as we should. So what’s the problem? Why don’t Christians share the good news of the gospel message?
Looking at my own life, my own disobedience in this area, I’ve found five reasons we aren’t more vocal about telling others what we ourselves believe:
1) We don’t share our faith because we don’t realize we have a mission. The command to follow Christ as a disciple, as an ambassador, as a proclaimer of the good news is just that . . . a command. And yet if we were honest, most of the time we treat our mission in this world as something that is optional. We look at the calling of a Christian, to die to ourselves, to take up the cross, as something we should do, if we have time. We don’t take our mission seriously. Or we think that perhaps this mission was given only to a select few specialists, such as the pastor or the missionary. This is why the world hardly notices a difference between God’s people and the rest of the world. We are so preoccupied with our own well-being, our own survival or success, that we blow off the mission of God.
2) We don’t share our faith because we misunderstand our mission. Even if we want to obey the sending mission of God, we often fail because we misunderstand the mission. Let me explain. I think much of the fear that keeps Christians from sharing the good news of the gospel with their friends and neighbors and coworkers stems from a confusion of two things: method and message. Sometimes we confuse the method with the message. So to evangelize means to dump the entire book of Romans on an unsuspecting mall clerk or it means reciting a memorized spiel of the steps to salvation. But while methods are good–they change with the audience. Paul knew this and so he didn’t necessarily try out the same method on every people group. When we do this, when we put so much confidence in a few Christianese phrases and memorized, out-of-context verses, we end up sounding like a salesman for something we don’t really want to sell. I think much of the fear would go away if we, instead, relied on the Holy Spirit to guide us in each interaction, if we resisted impatience, and worked to build long-term relationships that can one day lead to conversion. What if we were so in love with the gospel message, if we never lost our awe and wonder, if we made it a lifetime study? Perhaps that passion would so fill our souls that it would leak out into every single sphere of life and thus . . . the good news would be less of a canned pitch and more of a lifestyle. The gospel is good news, after all.
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The tragedy in Connecticut struck a national nerve today as children were harmed and families were left scarred in the wake of the murder of innocent victims. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen these kinds of tragedies happen, and it won’t be the last.
The fact, is we live in a sin-stricken world that is in love with itself. The moral decay of our civilization is well-documented– from the change on American’s views on gay marriage to a whole host of other issues. The fact is we are not improving in our world—we are falling more in love with our ideas of what is right and wrong from our own worldview instead of accepting what is right and wrong from God’s Word. Some people think they are above God’s Word, but the fact is they are not above it and will never be. The Word of God reigns supreme over the mind of men, because God is sovereign over mankind even when he thinks that he is supreme over the Creator.
Let me make it clear—even as I write this article, tears are streaming down my face. I am heartbroken tonight for the children, mothers and fathers lost, but I’m hopeful because of the Gospel. While many people are focusing on the “fiscal” cliff in the United States, and every other event that is going on—as a country we are completely missing the point. It is not programs or budgets that will save this country—it is the Gospel.
As a country we have long over-indulged and gloried in ourselves rather than in our Creator who blessed us, and has used this country for the sake of His glory among the nations for the purpose of spreading His Gospel. The sad truth is that in our country many people are more concerned with programs and budgets than with the moral decay of our churches and our country.
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