Friday, May 24, 2013

Too Little, Too Late?

There’s a short video clip going around the ‘net  that, once again brought home a real truth.
We already mentioned, in the introduction to Wednesday’s video, that we really never know when our final moment on earth will be.  The tornado in Moore, Oklahoma certainly was proof of that.  We’ll discuss that a bit.  Then we’ll get into the reality this clip hammers home.

Mark 16:15 (KJV)  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
 
That verse covers both topics, today.  Jesus tells the disciples (and, by inference, us) to go everywhere and share the Gospel. 
 
It’s important to note that it doesn’t say go throughout the world and save people from damnation.  That’s not our job.  It’s God’s.  So, when we hear someone say that they got another individual saved, we ought to realize what they really should be saying is, “God used my sorry __ to carry the message of salvation to that person so they had an opportunity to choose correctly.”.  We’re the angelos, the messenger.  In modern times we think of someone delivering something, carrying the packages and documents in a bag.  And we think of that person as someone of lower status, most often not well paid, and rarely properly tipped.
 
The person sharing the Gospel is described with the same word for angels.  We have a new, higher status because of what we are commissioned to do.  It’s circular in reasoning.  The messenger becomes more important because of the nature of the message.  At the same time, the message gains importance because of the God given status of the messenger.  We’re important, but it’s a gift from God.  So, there’s nothing to be prideful about.
 
In a way, that sums up the message.  God takes the least and gives them
  1. the wherewithal to get through any earthly situation with God’s joy,
  2. an elevated importance because of their relationship to God,
  3. an elevated status because of the nature of the message, and
  4. the privilege of being the messenger of such important information.
We have to realize that evangelism isn’t a task to gain us a closer relationship with God.  It’s a privilege to be able to bring others closer to Him.  Yes, we should be well prepared.  But that’s because we want people to have a clear understanding so they can choose wisely, based on the message, not the ineptitude of the messenger.

There’s a saying floating around the internet that people “don’t care what you know till they know that you care”.  If we’re like the gunslinger of the old West, our gun belt has a bunch of notches for all the professions we’ve accumulated.  Many of those just might be false, aimed at shutting us up.  But when people see that what we’re saying is based on what we really believe and we truly want them to share in the blessings, then they’re far more likely to listen to what we say.

If you’ve seen any of the interviews of the survivors in Moore, you notice a consistent mindset.Many know God.  Many are praising God for getting them through the tornado.  Teachers used themselves to protect students.  All because of relationships with God.  And that’s where we need to pay attention to the video clip at the top.

Wolf Blitzer made an assumption, based on where he was and, probably, all the others he spoke to.  He assumed that anyone with a happy look would be a Christian.  Instead he ended up fumbling the rest of the interview because he wasn’t ready for a happy atheist.  Are we ready for what we hear?  How easy it can seem to get into a debate about atheism vs. Christianity.  But that ends up proving that we need to be right, not that we care for souls.  And the other party could very well feel threatened by the debate and mentally shut off any real discussion.

Perhaps more telling is the assumption that if someone uses the right buzzwords, they must be already saved.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Pharisees and Scribes had all the right lingo.  Yet Jesus spoke to them of “your father the devil”.  If we care about someone and the condition of their soul, we’ll listen to what they say about God, discerning the reality of their relationship.  Based on that, we share God’s love with people, believer and unbeliever alike.  Remember that Satan believes, but his relationship with God is as wrong as it can get.  That’s the heart of both evangelism and discipleship -- helping people develop a healthy relationship with God.

We can make a few assumptions, based on Truth:
  1. The message is important because it comes from God.
  2. We are privileged because we’ve been commissioned to deliver the message.
  3. God loves His creation and doesn’t want us to perish (@ Peter 3:9)
  4. God didn’t leave any out of the chance to avoid perishing. (Mark 16:15, John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9)
When we share the Gospel, we tell people how and how much God loves them.  We give them their options and it’s up to them to choose.  The ultimate result of that is between them and God  Doesn’t that realization take a lot of pressure off us about the results?  And it gives us a chance to love people where they’re at, showing them the full spectrum of God’s love through us.

We have another interesting cycle.  We can share God’s heart with people because we experience His love for us and His joy.  We then love others because His love comes through us.  And we love them no matter what their response is.  That all causes us to experience more of God’s love and joy.  Which….

How is the joy of the Lord and God’s love nudging you to share that with others, today?  To avoid sharing too little, too late?

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