Friday, July 11, 2014

Body Parts Required- A "Good Life" Can't Share the Gospel

I was very blessed and challenged by this exhortation from one of my favorite blog writers, Matthew Jacobson.  "To be a faithful Christian requires telling people about the Gospel. It's not enough to live a good life." I hope it's a blessing and challenge to some of you as well!

As children, we learn early in life . . .

Don’t stand out
Blend in with the crowd
Don’t make a stir
Do what everybody else does
Don’t be different

At some point, we experience the truth of the old Japanese proverb:
 “The nail that sticks up will be hammered down”

Who likes being hammered? So we conform, keep our heads down, and carry on.

Except for the woman ringing up my purchases at Target.  I guessed she was about 47, which made her unkempt royal blue and pale pink hair, with a few brown patches that had been missed, stand out all the more.
Why would she do that? Now, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but, I seriously doubt she looked in the mirror after the dye-job and said, It’s so beautiful!

She was more like a nail, sticking up. You have problem with that? Too bad for you. I did it to send a message: I don’t care what you think. 

When it comes to who we are and what we are doing in the world, most Christians could use a little pink and blue die in their hair (not the snark, just the spine) and should stop worrying about Japanese proverbs.

We care too much about what others will think.

We forget who we are.
We forget why we’re here.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light . . . 1 Peter 2:9

If you are a true follower/disciple of Jesus, you have been enlightened in this dark and perverse generation. But being called “into his marvelous light” has a purpose far beyond an inner, personal glow.

Oh, I understand . . . I’m supposed to “show his praises” like lifestyle evangelism . . . I don’t have to say anything, just be a good Christian so maybe people will notice Jesus in me . . .

Followers of Jesus are called to live an exemplary life but that’s not enough. A good life cannot share the Gospel. We are called to be nails that stick up, too.

The popular adage attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words, has a grain of truth in it (don’t be a hypocrite) like many unbiblical ideas.

It is impossible to be obedient to the Word and to avoid telling people the good news of the Gospel when God gives opportunity. Relying on “lifestyle evangelism” impedes the spread of the Gospel. Lifestyle evangelism is an excuse to avoid the reproach that comes from speaking the Truth of God’s Word into the darkness of this world.
Christians are called to open their mouths about the Gospel. The Apostle Paul didn’t sit in his tent-making booth hoping people would notice his exemplary life and strike up a conversation about Jesus dying on the cross for their sins. As God called him and gave him opportunity, he spoke, telling people that God’s wrath was satisfied in the death of Jesus Christ and His gift of life was now available to those lost in sin.

Romans 10:17 says, “ . . . faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

No one is interested in hearing a message from someone who isn’t living it. Our lives must conform to the message of the Word but, the Word must be spoken.

1 Peter 2:9 says we are to “ . . . show forth the praises of him who has called us . . .”

What does that phrase actually mean? Just let people see our life, and how it praises God?

No. Body parts are required, the mouth, for instance. The definition of this phrase has a lot more to do with blue hair and nails sticking up than engendering chance interest in some observer of our lives.

The definition of  “show forth” is:
a) to tell out or forth
b) to declare abroad, divulge, publish
c) to make known by praising or proclaiming, to celebrate
Brothers & Sisters, we’ve got some showing forth to do. Everyone of has a story. Everyone of us has been radically saved . . . we’ve passed from darkness to light . . . and the God Who did that awesome work wants us to tell others how awesome He is . . . to show forth His praise.

Maybe you’ll be the one who plants the seed of the Gospel in a dry, broken place in someone’s heart.

Maybe you’ll be the one who waters a Gospel seed planted by someone else. Maybe you’ll be the nail that gets hammered . . . remember Stephen?

God is calling us to obedience. The results are up to Him. Are we willing to seek only His approval?
~Matthew L. Jacobson

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