Picture the Scene - Part 2
This blog is part of a series. To see Part 1, click here.
I realised recently that I have been hijacking the Gospel
So how does it affect evangelism? Let me make another confession. I realised recently that I have been hijacking the Gospel, removing God from the centre, and replacing him with humans. Allow me to give you two summaries of the Gospel. One is the one Paul gives at the very beginning of Romans 1, and the other is the one I have been giving to my non Christian friends. See if you can spot the difference. I may have added slight emphasis to help…
Through HIM we received grace.
Paul, a servant of CHRIST JESUS... set apart for the gospel OF GOD - the gospel HE promised beforehand through HIS prophets in the Holy Scriptures REGARDING HIS SON, who as to his earthly life was a descendent of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the SON OF GOD in power by HIS resurrection from the dead: JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. Through HIM we received grace.
Josh, a servant of YOU (my non-Christian friend, trying to save your soul)... Set apart for the Gospel which can sort YOUR problems - the gospel YOU have needed all YOUR LIFE if only you'd recognised it, regarding YOU who needs forgiveness and freedom from Jesus and can one day experience the same resurrection from the dead as he did. If YOU believe and let him into YOUR life, YOU will receive grace.
Now obviously there's more than one problem with what I said there, and clearly I've exaggerated slightly to make the point. But the point I want to focus on is that I am selling the same mistake to non Christians that Christians fall for all the time. The gospel Paul preaches is not ultimately about people, it's about Jesus Christ.
Through the gospel, we receive grace, forgiveness, peace, wholeness...
Through the gospel, we receive grace, forgiveness, peace, wholeness, justification, eternal life and full satisfaction, but that's not what the Gospel is. Look again. The Gospel is that Jesus Christ has been appointed Son of God in power by his resurrection! The Gospel is that Jesus has won! It's his story, not ours or anyone else's.
The beauty of this is that it means everything revolves around him from the word go! How I wish I had started off my walk with Christ understanding that I was entering into a life that was all about him, rather than inviting him to come be part of mine.
think I'm talking idealistic nonsense?
True evangelism is not about offering people something they haven't got, or even something they really need, it's about proclaiming the victory of a risen Lord!
A couple of little disclaimers before you finish and think I'm talking idealistic nonsense.
- I know that this is hard. I battle with it and fail every single day, and tell God where is off limits to him. But the reality is that we have a helper, the Holy Spirit, who was powerful enough to raise Jesus from the grave. Pray like mad that he will help you put Jesus on the throne in your life. Read the Bible and ask him to speak to you through it, showing you Jesus at the centre of the Gospel. We need a supernaturally powerful God to get our minds around this one.
- Obviously, when we do evangelism, we have to be clear that Jesus makes a claim on everyone's life, and that he is not some idea far off in history or heaven. But we must remember that we are not recommending a problem-solver, a cuddly toy or a trapdoor from sin. We are announcing that Jesus is more powerful than sin and death, and says, ‘Come, follow me.’ We must make sure that our understanding of the gospel begins and ends with him. No one else.
So here are 2 challenges I'm setting myself. Please feel free to join me in them.
Firstly, when doing evangelism, to remember that it's all about Jesus. It's not about me winning converts, or about people having the same joy that we do in knowing Him for their own sake. It's about him.
I am a character in God's narrative of bringing glory to himself.
Secondly, to remember that I am a character in God's narrative of bringing glory to himself. Everything I do is part of the story that will be told for eternity in heaven. That means acting as though what I do really really matters both to me and to God - I have one brief scene in the film of history, I want it to bring glory to the One it's all about. And it means rejoicing that my life is part of something so much bigger, more enthralling, more exciting, more beautiful and more glorious than I ever dared to dream.