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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Speaking of Jesus: The Warm Embrace

Last month in "Speaking of Jesus" we discussed how evangelism is the delivering of good news. You are simply telling people what Jesus has done for them. And that is what evangelism is. Period. However, that is not all we are called to do as Christians when it comes to our relationships. The more and more I think about evangelism (which is derived the Greek word meaning "good news") the more and more I become disenchanted with the way the church has typically done evangelism. Too often we operate with an "I'm right / they're wrong" mentality. Evangelism ceases to be an endeavor to introduce the life saving / changing Gospel of Jesus and an argument over who is right and who is wrong. And, to be honest, this is not an argument we really want to enter into, so we ourselves run from evangelism.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, wonders if the way we talk about evangelism and mission isn't part of the problem. In his book The Radical Reformission he says we need to leave behind this language of "outreach." That word sounds too much like we are keeping people at an arm's length away from us. We can throw Jesus at them and walk away. Driscoll says we should start seeing our mission in this world as one that doesn't so much "reach out" to it, but one that embraces it. Instead of standing on a soap box and telling the world how to fix itself, we as the church should embrace the world and love our neighbors.

For me, this is a total shift in thinking. And I love it! We are not out to conquer the world and prove ourselves right. This "us who are right vs. they who are wrong" attitude does damage to our attempts at sharing the gospel. Our attitude should be one of sinners loving each other through life's highs and lows and sinners delivering the good news that Jesus has redeemed the highs, the lows, and you, and even me!

Not to go off on too much of a tangent here, but this is one reason why it is so critical for us to have confession on Sunday morning. Obviously, it is important because we need to receive forgiveness from Christ for our own sins. But in a secondary way, it reminds us that we are poor miserable sinners. We are only here by grace. We only know about Jesus and have a relationship with Jesus because God is gracious to us and forgives us. It is not because we are somehow better than non-Christians. Honestly, I see the lives of some non-Christians and am struck by how they really are "better" than I am! But we are all sinners. We all need forgiveness. We all need Jesus. So let's embrace the culture with this redeeming news!

Book Recommendations
Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission. Zondervan Publishing House, 2004.
Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformission Rev. Zondervan Publishing House, 2006.

Pastor Bob

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