"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.
Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. Last week we discussed what were the influences in our lives that directed us toward coming to Jesus. I gave examples in my own life of the people and things that influenced me. The sad thing to me is the fact that not one of those nine influences openly and directly shared the gospel with me. And for sure I didn’t have one person available to follow along to disciple me, as was encouraged by Jesus in Matthew 28:19. The people and things I mentioned last time as influencers made me think about there being something more to life, but none shared with me exactly how to find the something more. So that’s why my post today is entitled, “Evangelism Question 4: Is It Time to Open Up?”
Hindsight is always 20/20 . . . but what if the influencers in my life had openly shared the gospel with me, or you, rather than to allow us to come to Christ by a type of learning by osmosis process? And what if they had followed along with us to disciple us?
I don’t fault the influencers in my life. They were never taught and encouraged to openly share the gospel. And they were never taught and encouraged to disciple ones like me after accepting Christ. But I do fault the church, and church leaders. I don’t, however, want to be dogmatic in advocating punishment for the church and church leaders for their failures. On the other hand, I want to be a change agent, one of many, who turns the church around in this area.
Let’s start by asking WHY did we stop openly sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and teaching and encouraging others to do so? I have a few of my own thoughts, but I also welcome your thoughts about why:
- Feeling inadequate to share. The gospel message and the Bible are things you and I will never understand 100%. I think God made it that way. The mystery and intrigue of the gospel message is what makes it so wonderful. We never know it completely, and we can constantly learn more and more about it.
- Feeling ill at ease sharing the gospel with others. I took a Dallas Theological Seminary online course, and the instructor made it clear that we will likely never feel totally comfortable sharing the gospel with other people. But he made it clear that is no reason to stop doing it, and God can work in us despite our feeling of unease.
- Somewhere along the way, church leaders stopped teaching us HOW to share the gospel, and they stopped encouraging us TO share the gospel.
- I don’t think anyone really knows. We do know the apostles and the early church DID openly share the life-changing message of Jesus Christ wherever they went, and whoever they spoke to, even if it meant people would go so far to put them to death for doing so.
- I also think the “familiarity breeds contempt” type of phrase applies. Or perhaps an applicable phrase for non-sharing of the gospel might be “familiarity breeds passivity”. Remember how excited you and I were when we first started a new job, a new hobby, and even a new relationship. Then sometime later our excitement turned almost to disdain. Below are some examples of the familiarity breeds contempt or passivity concept:
- First Example: My North Central Technical College graduation in 1990 as an older adult: Up to that point I had blue collar jobs, mostly as a factory or construction worker. But after I got my degree in Social Services, I got a professional job working in community mental health, had my own office cubicle, and wore slacks and a dress shirt instead of blue jeans and a t-shirt. I loved sitting in meetings with other professionals and helping mental health clients in the community . . . instead of running a machine. After almost 29 years in that job, however, I was more than ready to retire. The increased mental health “red tape”, productivity and political correctness requirements, and incompetent co-workers led me to feel almost contempt, or passivity about my job. I went from a starry-eyed dreamer to a weary worker. Don’t get me wrong. I developed many wonderful relationships during those years, but I don’t regret retiring, especially since open evangelism on the job in community mental health was not allowed.
- Second Example: Remember when you and I first came to Christ: Remember how excited we were when we accepted Jesus as our Savior? We wanted to tell everyone we knew about what happened to us. Then over time the excitement wore off. Perhaps family and friends started giving us the cold shoulder, maybe even calling us religious fanatics. Our sharing of Christ somewhere along the line may have ground to, almost a virtual halt.
- Third Example: Over time since the Acts of the Apostles our fervor for sharing the gospel has waxed and waned. Currently it is my strong opinion that it is in a waning cycle. Many pastors and church leaders share with gusto their opinions on their beliefs about the Bible. But few share with gusto encouragement to their flock to fulfil The Great Commission.
- Admit there’s a problem. The Great Commission in the Bible is very clear. When we don’t “go, therefore, and make disciples”, as Jesus stated in Matthew 28:19, I think strongly we have a problem.
- Prayer: In a May 16 post, I talked about the many instances where Jesus and His disciples encouraged us repeatedly to ask Him to meet our needs, and He would grant them. I quoted ten scripture passages then, and there are many more, so I’m not going to repeat them here. Would you and I agree that to openly share the gospel with a dying world is a dire need? If so, according to Jesus and his disciples, we should pray for that dire need to openly share the gospel, and He will respond and give us our request. He promised to do so.
- Start a movement. My whole purpose of the Soulwinnersr.us website in the first place over a year ago, was to start a movement, beginning with myself, to encourage myself, and others, to begin to openly share the gospel with a dying world.
So, until I see you next time, keep sharing the love of Jesus,