Shout the Gospel

Sister Maragret, a 70+ year old revolutionary Catholic nun says, “We are trying to shout the gospel with our lives.” This is because she believes that many who are seeking a meaningful spiritual life and thus Jesus have not been able to hear the words of Christians because the lives of Christians have been making so much horrible noise. It can be hard to hear the gentle whisper of the Spirit amidst the noise of Christendom.

Today the best way to let people know about Jesus is to invite them to “come and see.” Philip did this when he first met Jesus – he invited his friend Nathanael (John 1:46). Afterall, you are not just trying to get someone to sign a doctrinal statement, but to come to know love, grace and peace in the incarnation of Jesus, and now in the incarnation of the body, Christ’s church. So, when someone asks me to introduce them to Jesus I would say, “Come and see. Let me show you Jesus with skin on.” and then would invite them into my life so that they would experience Jesus in the way that I live my life.

Of course this can be a little frightening as this means inviting someone into YOUR life and letting them see the way you live and see how what you believe influences and changes the way you live. That can be somewhat unnerving and even revealing. So, most believers or followers of Jesus simply don’t do it. Yet, that is what people want today. They are not looking for a set of beliefs and a doctrinal statement to sign. They are not wanting to add a long list of new things to do to an already busy life. They are looking for ‘life’ – real life. Life with meaning, purpose, direction, depth, authencity, and relevance. They are looking for “life” – the very life and nature of God seen in you and your lifestyle.

This has really always been the way of the Christian faith. John 1:4 states: that “In Jesus was life and that life was the light of men.” The very nature and life of God was in Jesus and that life shone in such a way that others saw it and turned to God. And, today we are called to be the “light of the world” and live in such a way that others will see and want to come to know Jesus. To “see” they will need to be close and intimate with us observing how what we believe influences and impacts how we live.

When I am overseas I spend much time with young people – late night and early mornings, meals and walks … I am certainly busy enough without this aspect of life being added to my daily activities and responsibilities. But I understand the “come and see” principle. It means that often I am tired and lacking personal time and space but it is influencing many and changing what they think and thus how they live. It is the same here when I am not travelling. I meet daily with young men and women talking, sharing, living my life in public. Not always easy or comfortable but always necessary.

How are you sharing the Gospel? With whom are you sharing your life?

I Gave Up Christianity to Follow Jesus

St. Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century in Italy heard a divine whisper that said “Repair My Church which is in ruins.” And he tried to be faithful to that call and bring life to the Church he loved.

Once again, young people like Francis are thirsty for God, so embarrassed by Christianity, and so ready for something more. These are young people who would tell you that they are no longer Christians. Oh, they believe in Jesus and all that He did and stood for. They are Christ followers and truly love Him and follow Him. They are the ones that will tell you, “I gave up Christianity in order to follow Jesus.” They simply find Christianity and Jesus to not be compatible. A sad fact but an absolutely true one.

Here’s the problem: In a survey it was determined that nearly 80% of believers who were ‘strong followers of Jesus’ when asked whether Jesus spent time with the poor – nearly 80% said yes. Later on in the same survey the people taking the survey were asked if they spent time with the poor and less than 2% said they did. There is a disconnect there.

Here’s the lesson: We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what He preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore the cross without taking up ours. The tradgedy in the Church is not that rich Christians do not care for the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor and so are not living the Gospel. We are not living what we say we believe. We have lost the way.

The early Church was known as the Way. It was a way of life that stood in glaring contrast to the world. What gave the early Church integrity was the fact that they could denounce the empire and in the same breath say, “And we have another way of living. If you are tired of what the empire has to offer we invite you into the Way.” Even the pagan emperors could not ignore the little revolution of love. Emperor Julian confessed, “The godless Galileans feed our poor in addition to their own.” And the Way had little cells multiplying all over the Empire.

Of course, this was not always an easy decision as we must remember that everything in this Kingdom is backward and upside-down – the last are first and the first are last, the poor are blessed and the mighty are cast from their thrones. And yet in spite of (or maybe because of) this totally different way of life people were attracted to it. They were ready for something different from what the Empire had to offer.

The youth of today are ready for something different than what the Church has to offer – and so they are following Jesus!

April Fools Day

In many nations of the world today is April fool’s Day. In Russian speaking countries they know it by a slightly different name but it is the same event in their culture as in North American culture. It is a silly day and a silly name for a silly day and Christians really should have noithing to do with it.

As a believer I personally refuse to even acknowledge the day in my life although I do know it exists. Think about it… why be an “April fool” when you can be a “fool for Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:10). Afterall, we are to live by a different standard than the world’s standards – that’s foolish. We follow someone who was reviled, rejected, and crucified – that’s foolish. We preach and share a Gospel or Good News that is a serious offense to those who are perishing – doing so seems foolish. We are narrow-minded as we believe there is only one way into Heaven and His Name is Jesus – real foolishness as it pegs us as exclusive and arrogant. We give and don’t worry about receiving in return – utterly foolish. We believe that to really live means to die – now, that’s straight foolishness. We take up our cross daily to follow our Lord’s example – foolish. We even love our enemies and bless those that persecute us – totally foolish, in fact, insane.

I am a fool for Christ. I admit it. I travel the world sharing Jesus with anyone who will stand still long enough to listen. I talk to everyone I come into contact with in my daily life when at home if they stand still long enough to listen. I don’t look for opportunities – I simply make them by striking up conversations with every person I can and that is a lot of conversations in any given day. Many people think I’m a complete fool – even an idiot. They don’t always mouth the words but their face and their body language tells me that this is the case. I don’t care actually. I would rather offer them the opportunity to join me in Heaven for all of eternity risking their ridicule or rejection than disobey the command of the Lord to “go into all the world…” and “seek and save the lost” as He did.

In the long run – when we all stand before the Lord on Judgment Day it will be seriously obvious who the real fools are – those who heard the Gospel and didn’t accept the offer of eternal life. And maybe those who are believers who never did anything with the mandate to all believers to “make disciples of people in all nations.”