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Dissension Amongst The Ranks

Great Commission Evangelism Gospel Church Division

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#1 Jeremiah

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 11:40 AM

It's no secret that many non-Christians don't care for the gospel message found within the pages of the Holy Bible. It's usually found to be offensive. Well, this may come as a shock to some, but, it's actually supposed to be offensive to the unbeliever. It's a wake up call and often a shock to the system. Given the gravity of the subject matter, most Christians that I know are rather unapologetic about that, myself included. So, that's not the subject being addressed here. In other words, if you're an unbeliever you're not in the intended audience today. (It's nothing personal. Just not the point or purpose this time around. Maybe next time.) As the title implies, I'm addressing those within "The Church" (the body of Christ-Centered individuals).

In my lifetime I've seen many things that have made me scratch my head in wonder. Specifically within my Christian walk, I would have to say that one of these "mysterious things" to me are Christians, or at least "spiritual individuals", who seem to almost derive pleasure in making things harder on their fellow Christians. I'm especially uneasy concerning those that seem to enjoy trying to trip up other Christians who put themselves out there in efforts to share the gospel.

Now, let me be very clear about something. I am not talking about Christians who simply do not to share the gospel with others. While I do believe that the Bible commands ALL Christians to evangelize (spread the gospel of Jesus Christ), everyone has to find their path to that place. I know some Christians who are so introverted that just the thought of sharing the gospel with a "stranger" practically paralyzes them. My friend, you have to take your situation in stride. I know God will strengthen you to share if that is your desire. But, you have to take that step. It's scary, I know. (Believe me, I know.) So, you're certainly not "judged" by me. If anything, I would think that if you're pondering it enough to be bothered so much that you get worked up into a "panic", you're actually on the right path and likely to be just fine.

No, again, the target audience here is any Christian, or at least "spiritual individual", whom almost revels in downing another for simply obeying a command found within scripture. (Yes, that of evangelism. Acts 1:8.) I've tried to figure out the motivation and it still escapes me. I sometimes wonder if it's a case like "that kid in school" who lashed out at that which they didn't understand or possess themselves. (The kid who didn't run fast enough to make the team, thus became "anti-jock". Or the kid who didn't apply himself and made fun of the others who got good grades.) Or is it a case of selfishness? ("As long as myself and family are 'good to go' then that's all I'm concerned about?") Perhaps it's that within some circles/denominations, "Evangelism is left for those in 'positions of authority' within the church". (As if the words of Jesus already weren't enough. After all, He only gave "The Great Commission" in two of the four gospels, right? Oh, wait, what about 2 Timothy 3:16? "ALL scripture..." Or what about both Paul and Peter advising that we're always to be ready to give an account or witness to anyone?)

Let's be perfectly transparent. I wouldn't exactly call sharing the gospel "fun". In fact, it's often "difficult", "frustrating", "scary", (insert your own such adjective here) for many. The following article I found pretty much sums it up nicely...

Why I Hate Evangelism
By: Greg Steir, Christian Post Guest Columnist

It may come as a surprise to you that, the President of a ministry called Dare 2 Share, hates evangelism. But I do. Let me tell you why. Evangelism forces me to decide whether or not I believe in Jesus enough to tell someone else that he is the only way into God’s favor. It puts me in the awkward position of telling a fellow human being that the core of what they believe about salvation is wrong, what the Bible says is right and that they need to repent (i.e. “change their minds”)if they expect to make it into heaven. Say it twice or say it nice and it still stings. Evangelism makes my neighbors whisper about me and strangers laugh at me. It makes family members, who have yet to trust in Christ, roll their eyes when I engage them about the claims of Jesus at family reunions (aka “funerals” or “weddings.”) Evangelism makes for awkward moments everywhere I go. To be honest it would be much easier just to preach the gospel with my life and leave the words out of it. Wordless evangelism doesn’t spark outrage. It doesn’t spark arguments. It doesn’t spark anything. No discussion. No faith. No transformation. Maybe I should ditch evangelism completely and just live a good life. I could seek to eradicate poverty, stop human trafficking or adopt orphans. Nobody will get mad at me then. Most people would probably think that I’m pretty cool. And, to be totally truthful, that’s what I want, to be cool and accepted, not mocked and rejected. Who wants to be marginalized? Who wants to be persecuted? Who wants to come off as a stark raving lunatic?

Actually, who wants to be treated like the early disciples? Sure they took care of orphans and widows (very cool!) but they evangelized everyone they met (not so cool!) These Christians just wouldn’t shut up. In the midst of all their service to the poor they passionately proclaimed to them, and to everyone else who would listen, that this wood-working rabbi named Jesus was the exclusive way to God. As a result they were crucified upside down, beheaded right side up and gutted inside out. Not fun. I don’t want to take a punch for Jesus. Heck, I don’t even want to be a punch line on his behalf. I don’t like the feelings of shame that come from preaching the Name of Jesus Christ. Yeah, yeah, I know that 2 Timothy 3:12 promises that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” And I know that this persecution erupts from declaring that “Jesus is Lord” to a scoffing world. But there has got to be another way. Right? After all doesn’t Peter sound kind of arrogant when he declares in Acts 4:13 that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”? The gall of that chief disciple of Jesus who was given the keys to the kingdom by the King of kings himself! The arrogance of that leader of the revolution that was the early New Testament church! Yes, I hate evangelism. I don’t like at all what it does to me. It puts me smack dab into a camp of Christians that are sure of what they believe and confident in what they proclaim. It puts me in the crosshairs of Satan, the world and the too-cool-for-the-old-school Christians. But, on the other hand, maybe this was what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:11-12 in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Okay, maybe I don’t hate evangelism. Or maybe it’s the old me (the one before I met Jesus) who hates it. But, as I think about it, getting mocked or marginalized for the sake of Jesus isn’t nearly as bad as getting crucified for crimes you didn’t commit.


With that in mind, why would any Bible-believing individual even want to down another believer for sharing their faith with unbelievers?! Again, I find it baffling. If absolutely nothing else, is not your heart inclined the same as God's, you being His very own? In 2 Peter 3:9, it says that God is not willing for ANY to perish, but all to come to repentance. As hard as it may be for some to believe (many Christians today actually believe the world has been "over-saturated" with the gospel message), I still meet people whom have never put much thought into who Jesus is and why they would even need to accept Him as their savior. These are the very individuals that evangelism aims to reach. (It isn't about, "Look how righteous I am that I do this." or anything else some may believe. Well, okay, for some people it sadly may be. But, there are misguided individuals within all ranks. Please don't "punish" the many for the sake of those few.) If you know and believe the gospel, you should be speaking up when you see someone on a path to destruction. At the very least, you should step aside to allow another of your brethren to freely do so if you choose not to. Just please don't trip them as they walk by. They've got enough "grief" to deal with already.

If any of this has "struck a chord" with anyone, I'd beg that you examine your faith walk. Is there a root of offense within you regarding this subject? The Bible says we are to examine ourselves and judge ourselves (that we may make corrections where needed) rather than positioning ourselves such that God Himself must judge us. (I'd MUCH rather "work out my salvation" than have to have God intervene with a potentially heavy hand!) It has been said, and I firmly agree, that sharing the gospel is a direct overflow of the spirit within us. It's almost as if, once empowered to do so, Christians can't help themselves but to cry out about what the Lord has done in and for them. If this is not your heart, again, please search yourself.

God is good and the story of what He has done for us is very share-worthy. If life was Facebook, I'd surely click "Like" on the gospel for ALL to see! Be blessed everyone.

PA IHEA & NBEF/IBEP Instructor

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#2 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 04:04 PM

As usual, great thread. It is a thinking mans thread which I would best describe you if called upon to do so. Many times I would describe myself as the reluctant evangelist. I feel at home at church but have the usual fears when not with peers. I should not feel that way because if I am doing God's work and someone remains obstinant or even abusive they are not doing so to me but to God.
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#3 sschneid73

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 07:28 AM

Amen Jer!!!! Time is short and the field of harvest is plentiful. MORE WORKERS PLEASE!!!!! HIs word says not to be ashamed of the gospel. We have a cure more important than ANY cure known to man. Why would we be afraid to share a life saving message like that? Pray for oppertunities and BOLDNESS and watch what the Master will do for your walk.

Steve




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