Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In the wake of the killings of Christian relief workers in Afghanistan in August asked several spiritual leaders, including me, the question, "Given the climate of the times, should Christians evangelize or share the Gospel?

My response:

That’s a very good question and one that every believer and every Christian leader should ask themselves often.

When Jesus told his disciples that they were going to be bearers of good news, He didn’t limit this activity to any nation or language group or season (or climate). He also didn’t give them a detailed “how to” guide to reach different cultures or to operate in different environments. Instead he encouraged them with the words they needed desperately to hear: He said “I’ll be with you”. As difficult as it may be to share our faith today, it’s hard to imagine that Jesus didn’t anticipate the challenges we face. It’s also hard to imagine that He’s at a loss on how to draw people to his table of love and forgiveness and hope and peace when these essential elements of life are becoming so scarce today.

But I think there’s a word missing from the above question.

Too many believers know the answer to the question in its present form but I’m afraid we won’t get much heavenly credit for that. When you add the word “how” just before “should” you get a question that won’t leave us feeling self satisfied or comfortable.

“Given the climate of the times, how should Christians evangelize or share the Gospel?”

Sharing the Gospel in the world today presents some challenges that previous generations didn't face, but just because the climate is different doesn’t mean that seeds can’t be sown and produce an abundant harvest. It does mean that it is vitally important that we don’t just copy the techniques of those who have gone before us, even if they were successful. Instead, we should emulate the partnership they shared with Christ and his Spirit. After all, isn’t every successful sharing of the gospel more to the credit of Jesus’ compassion and wisdom and sacrifice and relevance than to the servants he used to make them known.

That’s especially true in the climate of these times.