4/09/2006

On Mirrors and Messangers

The other day, Samantha was hanging out with some school friends when one made a comment that the Bible is just a fictional story anyways. Well, she couldn’t just let that pass, could she? So, she challenged the comment, and it started a spirited debate about the validity and truth of Christianity, as well as the idea of relativism vs. absolutism (not in so many words, of course- it was more of one girl suggesting that Christianity can be true for one person but not for another, which of course is completely illogical).

I was really proud of Samantha for standing up for her beliefs, but she expressed frustration at the same time. When you come away from a discussion like that, you almost inevitably feel a sense of frustration and loss, as though you have lost a fight and aren’t sure why.

This was my experience growing up as well. In high school and early college, I thought that I would be able to debate people into realizing that Christianity is at least intellectually viable. Each time I got involved in an argument, though, I found that I came away feeling bad. This would push me to know apologetics even better. Eventually, I became good enough that most people would acknowledge that I tended to “win” the debates I fought in. However, I still felt awful for some reason.

This is a big problem in day-to-day evangelism. We all have a natural tendency to be “strategic” in our relationships. We focus on saying the right things and acting the right way so that over time, we will build friendships where people feel comfortable because they are never challenged. This natural tendency causes us to feel a lot of discomfort and embarrassment when we evangelize. We just need to get over this tendency, right?

Well… perhaps. I AM proud of Samantha, and I do think there is a good time (and way) to stand up for your faith and clearly state your beliefs. She did the right thing. At the same time, neither she nor I should think that is all there is to evangelism. In fact, I’d even say arguing about philosophy or the Bible is at best a very small part of evangelism. So then, what IS our evangelistic calling?

Well, I think it is two things:

-First, we are called to be MIRRORS of God. He made us in his image, and in many ways we destroy that image through sin. As Christians, we should be seeking holiness, trying to become more and more like Christ each day. This process of sanctification causes us to reflect God and His attributes to the world. He shines on us, and we in turn mirror that image toward the world. Through our lives, they should see God’s love, grace, mercy, compassion, justice, wrath against sin, and faithfulness. The people around us should clearly see that we are different in how we live our lives and in what we value… can you say that your friends see you all that differently?

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. -2 Corinthians 3:18

-Second, we are called to be MESSANGERS of God. He has given us His glorious Gospel. This message of good news is the only thing that can save the world from its sins. As Christians, it HAS saved us from our sins. Out of gratitude to God, out of love for our friends and neighbors, and out of fear for the eternal state of our peers, how can we not spread this message? If we want to do the best service we can to those we meet, we must present the gospel in all its fullness, as clearly and accurately as possible. Only then are we being the true faithful messengers that God has called us to be. Only then can we be sure that those we care about have truly heard the Word of the Lord. We must not create some false gospel of our own- we must be faithful messengers.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. -2 Timothy 1:8-10

Let this be our standard; to love God, to reflect his image, and to carry his message. When this is our definition of success, how radically will it change our lives?

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. -1 Corinthians 1:18-21

1 comment:

amanda said...

as usual this helped me. thanks.
I hope your trip goes well on thursday.