What is the impression that we Christians are giving to the world about who Jesus is and what it means to be one of His disciples? Apparently, that impression is often negative. So what are we doing wrong? There is a movie that was released recently entitled, "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers." The movie has been running here in Portland for the past few days and has been causing quite a stir, just as it has been doing all across the country. Check out the movie's website at http://lordsaveusthemovie.com/ and click on the place where it says, "See Free Preview." It will bring up the player and a fascinating 10 min. overview of the movie. You'll want to undock the viewer and maximize it for full effect. It is definitely worth watching.
Anyway, the film raises some very important points. We who are theological and moral conservatives often emphasize being right (in every sense) to the neglect of getting heard. We go at evangelism like a man clubbing fish in a barrel. Our attention is so transfixed on making our point that we completely lose the audience we are hoping to win over.
This is not a new problem but with the higher profile of the debate over the role of Christians and churches in government and society it is not something we can afford to ignore. If we seriously want to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ we have to find better ways of interfacing with their world. On the other hand, we cannot do this at the expense of the truth. To water down the Gospel is to destroy it.
Here at Sellwood Baptist I'm currently doing a preaching series on Paul's Thessalonian letters. In I Thessalonians 2:7 Paul says, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” He's talking about the attitude with which he and his colleagues introduced the Gospel to the people in the city of Thessaloniki (read about this in Acts 17). Paul reminds the folks that when his team arrived in Thessaloniki they were gentle, the way a nursing mother gently cares for her infant. You know what he means. I've watched my daughter, Simoni, nurse little Natalie; and our daughter-in-law, Luciana, when she nurses little Gabriela. Both of them do it with gentleness and love. Paul and his colleagues did not cram the Gospel down people’s throats. They did not beat them down with theological arguments. They did not resort to high-sounding words, grand oratory, or condemning speeches. They simply shared about who Jesus was and what He had done in their lives.
In my message last Sunday I pointed out that there are two ways to get a horse to drink water: (1) you can stick a rubber hose down his throat and pour water into his stomach through a funnel; or (2) you can feed him salt. It could be argued that both methods work. However, the first method really hacks off the horse. He'll be mad at you for a very long time and will probably never let you get close to him for a second dose.
The second method has a very different effect. Horses love salt. They eat it up and want more. So if you want him to drink give him salt, lots of salt. Before you know it he will be tearing the place up looking for water. Paul and his buddies offered the folks of Thessaloniki their salty testimonies, and shared their salty lives, and preached the salty Gospel, and presented a salty Savior. Then they simply pointed people to the One who is the Fount of Living Water. It works every time! Evangelism has been described as… “Taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results up to God.” That is what Paul and his co-laborers did—with gentleness, respect, and love.
For quite a while we have been trying to get people to drink of the Living Water by the hose/funnel method. It's time we went back to the Jesus way of being salt and light.
I came across this video clip of Steve Harvey ending one of his comedy performances. He is one of the original Kings of Comedy and is a very funny man, though in the past has been somewhat lewd in his standup routines, like so many other comics. For that reason I'm not endorsing him in any way because I don't know what is in his heart, but still I can't help but admire his courage to do this in public. Watch how he uses salt to point people to the Savior. And watch the reaction of the audience. I'd give anything to see this kind of enthusiasm for Christ and the Good News at church on Sunday morning.
Crazy for more salt in the diet,