I had one of those moments this morning; when my mind wanders to a strange place and I start worrying about the early onset of Alzheimers. I was thinking about relationship evangelism and the manner in which I share the Gospel with others. Sometimes I think I’m inept and it humbles me; feeling overwhelmed by this awesome task puts me in a posture to pray and seek the Lord’s guidance. Unfortunately, too often I’m a Jonah who has become discouraged and angry by the world’s rejection of God. Oh, I share my faith but it’s from a very different place. From heaven I must look silly, arms folded, lips poked out, like a toddler refusing to eat her broccoli.
In this posture, introducing someone to Jesus becomes less of a delight and privilege for me. Therefore, I’m usually slow to speak about the Lord and am quite harsh in the delivery. As I was praying and repenting about this, a silly little song entered my head. I’m sure you’ve heard this chorus from the popular children’s movie Mary Poppins. It goes something like this:
A Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down-wown
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way
My initial reaction was to reject the very idea to give someone a sugar coated Gospel. It will cost you to follow Christ! The world rejected him and does in turn reject his followers. Since becoming a Christian, I experience the war daily inside me against my flesh and the Spirit. I’m also painfully aware of the war going on in the world, not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil.
There I go again, where is the balance? I can shout “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel!” But Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” D’oh! I’m trying to share the “Good News” right? I can be encouraged that my Savior has overcome the world and that by his wounds I am healed. We’ll this wouldn’t be good news without the bad news of man’s sinfulness and eternal separation from God, correct? So, in our Gospel presentation we have to include both. The fullness of the Word shouldn’t be neglected but that doesn’t mean we have to sit down and explain the whole Gospel in one afternoon. It also doesn’t mean we simply say God loves you and walk away. Often times God gives us those divine appointments like Philip had with the Eunuch in Acts chapter 8. The Holy Spirit said ‘go’ and Phillip didn’t just go to the Eunuch, he ran.
In contrast, prior to that encounter Philip went down to a city in Samaria to preach Christ. Many believed and were baptized. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard this they sent Peter and John.When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given at the laying on of the Apostle’s hands, he offered them money (Acts 8:18). Our brother Peter who often suffered from the dreaded Foot in Mouth decease said, “May your silver perish with you…” Hmmm, was there a better response? 2 Timothy 2:25 says with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.
What’s your objective when you share Jesus? We know that many people today think that their merit is found in what they own and not Jesus. The LORD says “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost,” Isaiah 55:1. God offers a better prize, his fellowship. Notice that Peter continued to tell Simon, “your heart is not right before God.” Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.” Can you see Peter looking at Simon? What do you imagine he’s thinking? Don’t read into the Word, what’s not there but can you imagine someone coming up to you and saying something you thought was so incredibly ridiculous. How do you think you would respond? I’m sure you would have responded with great tenderness and patience, right? Not! Who are we kidding here; compassion has been replaced by so called boldness.
Remember that God has made himself known in our consciences. People know that something is not right in their lives, they understand at a basic level that they have a sin problem-they’ve missed the mark. We as followers of Christ must tell them the solution and pray that God opens their hearts and minds (Ezekiel 36:26). Peter could have recited Isaiah 55:7 to Simon saying “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
Our God is not a harsh task master or disappointed Grandpa you wounded by your lack of love and attention. He is holy and wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Shouldn’t we, those who have tasted the kindness of the Lord? Remember, we are to God, the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2Cor. 2:15).