Sometimes in our efforts to distance ourselves from the insensitive and ineffective “evangelism” methods of the past, we forget that the gospel of Jesus Christ is, in fact, an announcement of great news. That is has content. That’s why I liked seeing this definition of the gospel from John Dickson (ht):
The gospel is the announcement that God has revealed his kingdom and opened it up to sinners through the birth, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will one day return to overthrow evil and consummate the kingdom for eternity.
Of course it’s not simply verbally announcing this message. Dickson goes on to say that we must “promote the gospel with more than just our lips,” but I think the other ditch is also a danger: that we end up trying to “embody” the gospel without ever announcing anything. That we’ll keep a clear conscience, but but won’t have a comprehensible answer to give when people ask us about the reason for the hope we have (1 Pet 3:15-16). That we’ll do our “good deeds” but no one will end up glorifying God because of them (1 Pet 2:12, Matt 5:16), because we were too scared to communicate words about Jesus to people.
It’s also pretty important to think through which words we use to communicate the good news of Jesus, too. That’s why I am really enjoying following Jason Coker‘s weekly guest-author web series called “3 Questions About Jesus.” In 300 words or less, he is asking several people to imagine explaining Jesus to someone who really knew nothing about Christianity. The specific questions are, 1) Who is Jesus the Christ? 2) What has he done? and 3) Why does it matter?
In the realization that we need to be living this out instead of just talking about it, we can’t forget that it’s really important to keep talking about it, too. Because we need both the music and the words. We need service and witness. Proclaiming and promoting. Embodying and communicating.
This is really good. I like the 'ditch to ditch' thing. It feels like we've had so many people "talking for us" and saying the gospel was one thing (which we vehemently disagree with on one level) , the way they did it and the noise with which they did it….that we've been neutered. Any semblance of boldness has dissipated.
yeah, I hear you. I think I fall into the embodiment ditch too often.
Ben Sternke says
Me too! It's been a struggle for me to find a way to really connect people with the gospel story without resorting to cliches or solving problems they aren't trying to solve. It's part of why I'm excited to contribute to Jason's series in a couple weeks… a "forced" working out of what I might actually tell someone who asked me those three questions.