Saturday, July 3, 2010

Evangelism Myth 5 - We Can Save Everyone!

Americans don't like failure. I can tell this as a sports fan. The past few weeks what has dominated sports radio is the World Cup (where we tied, which is a failure, and we got beat by Ghana, which is a failure, even though, really, we did relatively well) and then LeBron James (who didn't win the NBA Title, so his season was a failure). People have been ranting all about these things. Why? We can see failure over and over whenever anything doesn't go the way that we would like. If things fall short of some ideal, the achievements along the way are viewed as worthless.

In this world there is much failure - if perfection and total victory are your goal. Dreams don't pan out, plans fall apart, things just don't work. And we don't like it - I'm not going to say that we should, but part of handling the stresses that comes from these failures is having realistic expectations. If your expectation is set too high, you will see failure. We will be disappointed.

Now, as Christians, we of all people should be prepared to handle this. First, we know that the world is broken, fallen, sinful - so that all things here will fall apart. We don't expect perfection, we don't expect unlimited, unending joy here, because we know our sin and we know the sin of the world. We are people whose lives revolve around the fact that Christ Jesus has died for our sins to rescue us from this fallen world and give us live everlasting.

Now then, consider much of the rhetoric involved with the typical Evangelism plan. "You need to do this to keep people from going to hell." That's the point, right - unless you act (in according with the program and pay the nice man his money), then people are going to go to hell. That's the line delineating success and failure - whether or not that person there ends up not believing and going to hell.

You know what - people are going to go to hell. I don't like it, but guess what - that's the way it is. Faith cannot be forced upon someone. You don't beat salvation into people, you don't swindle salvation into people. However much you work, however much you change what you do, however much you try to appeal to people - some are still going to go to hell. Pastor Peters does a good post about people who just don't like Church"> noting that the Gospel itself is a turn off to many. Consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians - the Cross is foolishness and a stumbling block - it is folly to those who are perishing. Or consider how many get mad and leave Jesus when he preaches.

If we expect that everyone will receive the Gospel with joy and believe, we are having unrealistic expectations and simply setting ourselves up for failure. Not everyone believes. In fact, that's part of the point of the Parable of the Sower - a lot of that seed falls on soil where it doesn't grow - what of that - go spread the Word. And that isn't a "failure" - that's just how it is. Yours is not to create faith - yours is simply to be faithful.

We are called to be faithful. Part of the faithful life of a Christian is to proclaim the Word - to be God's Workmanship in wherever He has placed you in your life, and the speak the Word to family, friend, and neighbor as you have opportunity. Strive to do this - and should you proclaim Christ, should you point to Him in Word and Deed -- then that should be viewed as a success - you have done what you have been called to do. (Will you ever do it perfectly? No - confess your sins, receive forgiveness, and be fed on Christ's Body and Blood so you are strengthened to do better) - but be concerned with faithfulness.

No comments: