Sharing Christ, Despite the Pain
Church, Easter is coming! April 1st . . . April Fools’ Day. Inviting anyone to Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Inviting anyone to a gathering of people who will worship a man they cannot see, because they believe He was raised from the dead? Paul was an April Fool to the Athenians for believing such a thing (Acts 17:32), and increasingly so are we to our society. Increasingly evangelism results in mockery and derision. How do we fulfill our mission, to share Christ, despite the pain of that? We need . . .
A sober outlook. Some of us remember a different America, one where most people thought about life through a Christian framework. No more. But we are still surprised and shocked when the world responds to our gospel with hatred and derision. We get angry, offended - and then we stop evangelizing. Maybe the problem has more to do with our original optimism for the culture - and underneath that, a weak faith in God who still saves. As Al Mohler has said, for a Christian to be optimistic is naive. But pessimism is atheistic. We need God-confident realism.
A bigger pain. Hell is real. Jesus spoke more about hell because he wanted people to avoid it. It is eternal misery for all who enter it. In his book, “Honest Evangelism,” (see the bookstore this Sunday), Rico Tice says he likes to ask himself, when he meets someone, “Where will they be in 100 years?” The picture of that other person’s future pain puts the possibility of present pain for me (probably in the form of mocking, derision, separation, hatred, etc.) in perspective. It frees me to have . . .
. . . a bigger love. I don’t share the gospel with other people because I don’t love them. One reason I don’t love them is that I allow my mind to drift off from the eternal realities each person faces - OUR Easter - the resurrection for us all, and then either hell or heaven. Where will I be in 100 years? Do I love that place? Do I long to be there? What about the other person? The more that’s true, the more natural evangelism becomes. We talk about what we love.
A more singular love. Evangelism is all about love. Love for neighbor, but also love for God. The reason we don’t love our neighbor is because we love other things more than God: say, the approval of people, or our comfort. Our idols sap and enslave us into silence.
Which of these could you grow in most?