A young, single mom walked into a church with two little children in tow. She had a significant church experience in her young life. A couple years ago, loving her small youth group, she raised funds to go on a mission trip to Mexico. There she stood, though, on the other side of stepping away from her faith to find that the young man that promised her the world did not have the world to give her, and the substances that she allowed into her body were lying to her. As she nervously traversed the lobby waiting for some smiling face to help her find a seat or to refresh her on the proper procedure, a woman approached her and said, “Your little ones are adorable.” “Well thank you, that’s very kind,” answered the young woman. “Where is their dad?,” asked the woman. “Oh it’s just me,” replied the young woman. “Well, that’s a shame, such cute kids won’t be going to heaven.” This was the last time this young woman tried out a church.
As I stood in a parking lot outside of my local comic book store, hearing this story recounted by this young lady’s new husband, all I could do was grit my teeth and cringe. In my time in vocational ministry, I have rightly been accused of being evangelistically-minded. I love seeing people come to Christ. I love to stand there as the lights come on inside and they agree with God about their sin, and as the Holy Spirit stirs their heart to genuine repentance. It’s like watching a masterpiece being painted right in front of me. This story, however, was like watching a train carrying a payload of farm fresh eggs and whoopee cushions derail right in front of me. What a mess! What nonsensical noise!
Dear readers, as I search for the autopsy report marked “Evangelism” let us consider the following passage. Romans 10:10-17 (NIV) says this:
10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same LORD is LORD of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our message?” 17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Believers, today we have been justified by faith. This faith is contagious and spreads most effectively when our mouths are open. If we are to say that we have believed, it should be our sincerest joy to forego our personal criteria for what is good and, as it clearly says in verse 17, share a message that is “heard through the WORD about Christ. Some of us may consider ourselves great, winsome people. We may be great at inviting people in, or have a fantastic radar for seeing sin for what it is. We may be called evangelists by some, but if Scripture doesn’t roll off our tongue after transforming our heart and mind, then we are make-believe evangelists. There are far too many people that have yet to hear the true Gospel because of so many pretending representatives of the faith.
I am sad to say that I have heard of many stories like the story of this young woman. Just when so many are about to tip their spiritual hand, they preface it with, “I was raised a certain way and there were just too many rules,” or, “I just need to let you know, I had a really bad church experience,” or, “Christians are so fake, why would I want to be a part of that?”
Dear readers, my heart is evangelism. It stirs me every day that I may get to freshly share the gospel with one more soul. This, of course, is because “…how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” This is just a simple message from one who craves a window to share the Good News. The Gospel is not an op-ed. The true Gospel produces men and women who sacrifice their rights and opinions. The Gospel knows no political party or flag because the Gospel only illustrates one allegiance. The Gospel is not interested in our assessment of righteousness. The one and only Gospel is that God has so loved the world that he sent his Son to pay the penalty for all sin. And, by His resurrection we are given access to eternity with God. This grace is a free gift and cannot be earned by good behavior or wonderful deeds, but once it truly sets into a heart the byproduct of good works is produced. All of this is found in the precious pages of Scripture; so, let us fill our minds with the Word before we speak.
To the newcomer, the spiritually-curious-ones, the single moms or single dads, the addict who wants the title “former”, to the lonely, and to the lied-to, the ground is even at the foot of the Cross. Please come sit here with me, and bring your kids, friends, co-workers, and the like, for there is good news to tell them.
Zach Bardsley, Young Adult Ministries