I write with deep conviction and an urgency as I try to understand the times. God’s people, the Church, are to be ambassadors of Christ, to reflect the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Honestly, how do you think we are doing?
Evangelism is sharing Christ with others and calling people to faith and belief.. However, if we only call them to faith in Christ for the purpose of forgiveness and rescue, but fail to call them to obedience to Christ as Lord, we have failed greatly.
I’ve seen the rush to get people to "accept Christ" even when they know very little of what they are signing up for. Yes, we want everyone to know the love of God in Christ, but we cannot cheapen the message by minimizing the cost of discipleship. When we do, we get people who are Christian in name, but live in ways that are clearly contrary to the teachings of Jesus. This repels people. It repels unbelievers and even causes people in the Church to renounce their faith! God help us!
Jesus questions us all, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say (Luke 6:46)?” He follows this up with the story of two people building houses, one on a foundation of rock and the other on sand. The message is simple, if “disobedience and neglect” are the building blocks of our lives, they will crumble in the storms of life. If the foundation of our lives is loyalty and allegiance to Christ and all of his teachings, we’ll withstand the tempests that are sure to come. Let’s be found faithful!
In the U.S.A. right now, we are in multiple crises at the same time: the pandemic with the number of dead nearing 200,000; the ongoing struggle for racial justice with far too many wounded, suffering and dead; an economic crisis for many with desperation growing; and a political battle that’s raging with ratcheted up accusations, tensions and attacks every day. Please ask with me, are we as Jesus’ people reflecting His character, His grace and His truth into these crises? Are we offering help, offering hope, loving our neighbors and yes, loving our enemies? Do we know and proclaim that justice is an essential part of the Gospel (see Matthew 12:17-21)? These are not options for us to consider. If we follow Jesus, they are commands to be obeyed; and we obey not merely out of a sense of duty, but with joy knowing that our lives will please God and help manifest the Kingdom of God, which is coming “on earth as it is in heaven.”
In light of some recent failures among prominent Christian leaders, Melissa Stuebing, a friend of mine, posted an article. Her husband, David, called out an amazing quote, “There are men that would take on Christ’s name and none of His attributes.” Wow! This one made me think deeply. I believe many are well intentioned, but they drift from Jesus’ teachings, if they ever knew them. They pursue a righteous aim, but then endorse any method to get them there and become corrupt. In Dostoevsky’s "The Brothers Karamazov", we see a profound betrayal of Christ by the Church. The Grand Inquisitor believes he has found better methods than Christ’s teachings to get to the same end. It never works. We have to be vigilant, making sure we're not in error or deceived. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this was a danger to the Civil Rights Movement and spoke boldly, “I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”
Friends, remember “. . . our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20 NRSV)." Beware of the tribalism that can divide us. Remember the catastrophic lessons of tribalism within the “Christian culture” of Rwanda in 1994. Their loyalty to their tribe, whether Hutu or Tutsi, was greater than their loyalty to Christ. We must be sure of where our allegiance lies and who we will follow, in good times and bad. We are not only citizens of heaven, but ambassadors as well. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18 NIV)."