Monday, November 17, 2008

Sharing the message

Should we enforce behavior change? Should we enforce morality? Should we condemn their sins BEFORE we tell them that they are forgiven by the death of Jesus on the cross? Should we become a political power (vote bank) to enforce morality in the world? Should we march against abortionists and gays in order to tell them that God loves sinners?

I think evangelism (or sharing gospel or sharing the love of Jesus) is more than instructing people 'how to escape hell'. One of the biggest hindrance a person can have to come to a point where he realizes he need need Jesus, is his pride. And God opposes the proud. Trying to scare those people with the idea of hell (or rejection by God) or condemning them by their behavior wouldn't necessarily humble them and bring them to a point that they are ready to give up all their efforts/beliefs/unbelief and surrender to Jesus.

People are very skeptical in nature and reluctant to give up something they believe or not believe in order to come to faith in Jesus. So, the question is should we use scare tactics or some kind of emotional force or judgment of their behavior or rebuking of their immorality to shake their heart and bring them to Christ?

Amy over her blog made an excellent statement about this:

When you decide it is your job to force others into truth, you prove by doing so that you think too highly of yourself and too lowly of the Truth.

In other words, when we are forcing people to buy the message we are trying to sell, we are being skeptical about the power of the message itself, the power of Truth. So, we put our efforts to make it happen and most likely we end up using scare tactics, emotional manipulation or even threatening voice because we do not believe in the power of love in the first place.

I am yet to see a life genuinely transformed (inside-out) through fear, but I have seen and experienced unbelievable transformations in people's lives through the power of love. Love never fails!

The other day I came across on a verse in the book of Romans:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? - Romans 2:4

It is when we tell people about the kindness, mercy, grace and love of God, they come to repentance. It's not the other way around, that we use scare tactics to get them to Christ. That usually offend them or probably shut them off. Remember, people are extremely prideful to give up something they always believed (For example: religion) or they never believed. Love humbles people whereas fear and manipulation put them in confusion.

We can consistently point people to the love of God displayed on the cross and that will eventually (as we are being consistent in showing them the love of God through Christ) humble them and ultimately bring them to Christ.

What changed the life of the woman caught in adultery? The judgment of the people who were going to stone her or the love and kindness of Jesus?


RJW said...

You're making my Spirit leap and my soul sing!! :)

Love never fails. How big is our God??

Bino M. said...

Amen! BTW, this wasn't an easy post for me. Because I still struggle with the issue and often tempted to blurt out some stuff which would scare people. Usually I do it to get their attention. I am learning to trust Him and His love to do it's work. But I have to agree it's a struggle. I tend to take things into my control and it usually mess up the whole thing and makes me look like a Pharisee (of some sort!)

RJW said...

Galatians 2:20 (New International Version)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Who knew living by faith could be sooo scary? That's why we have to let the Spirit walk through us instead of us walking for the Spirit. 'Cause we would walk according to our sight, not His. :)

Moment by moment, just resting...

It's kinda scary, but exhilarating, learning to "float"!

I like the fact that we "Grace walkers" are all learning together!!

Love you, Brother.

Anonymous said...

Great post! And thank you for mentioning/citing my post! Appreciate that.

Amen to this!!

This especially resonated with the heart of the message I believe is so important for all in the Great Family:

"It is when we tell people about the kindness, mercy, grace and love of God, they come to repentance. It's not the other way around, that we use scare tactics to get them to Christ."

~Amy :)
Author of "Orphaned Into Belonging"

Bino M. said...

Jamie, Thank you! You always encourage.
Much grace, peace and love to you!

Amy - I said it, but I am still learning! :) Thanks, sister!

Matthew Daelon said...

You make great points, Bino. I never thought of the woman caught in adultery like that before. "You who boast in the law, dishonor God by breaking the law."

Awesome post, brother. Will we see you in Ohio????

Matthew Daelon said...

Well, apparently I HAVE heard of it that way before. But I forgot. :)

Bino M. said...

Hey Matthew, Thanks bro! The current plan is to make it to Ohio! I want to see your cat... :)

RJW said...

Peaches: The Cat of Death in our Suburban??? YEOW!! I don't think the world is ready for that! :)

Reeeaaallly smoooth, Matt! Good recovery on the woman in adultery deal!

Ike said...

We cannot argue a corpse out of its grave. For us to be "successful" in ministry, we must depend upon God to change hearts!

Leonard said...

I like cat's too, taste like chicken...

of course I kidding, that's one cat I'd love to meet.

Leonard said...

hmm,,, Chicken again.

Bino M. said...

Ike - You are right! It's not even changing our thinking, it's changing our heart! Only God can do it...

Leonard - I know people eating cat, so it isn't a surprise it me :)

Aida said...

Great post, Bino. Fear and manipulation work when we view salvation as a “great out of hell free card.” However, when we understand that salvation is really a restored relationship with our Father then those tactics don’t work.

Dealing with sin has never been the purpose of salvation. It’s merely a by-product of a restored relationship. Because Father loves us, we love him and because we love him, sin loses its hold on us.

Bino M. said...

Aida - Amen! I call that relationship - LIFE. The LIFE Jesus offered. It's more than forgiveness or escaping hell. Many believe salvation means 'going to heaven one day'. But Bible says the life Jesus gives us starts right here right now, continuing all eternity...

I couldn't agree with you more about the 'by-product' of salvation. It's not a surprise that we sin less when we recognize who we are in Christ and what we have in Him.

lionwoman said...

YES!! To this day I'm dealing with the aftermath of scare tactics used by those wanting me to 'enter in.' Just the other day I was telling someone who wondered if they should shun a pregnant unwed relative, your job is to love them, God's job is to convict/correct them. Love without an agenda is infectuous indeed.

Anonymous said...

Great post Bino, love is certainly the path to transformation. I used to be the youth group leader in the Assembly of God church we used to attend. During that time I got the Way of the Master study guide which contained several DVD's, audios, and a study guide book. It was interesting at the time, but still seemed a bit harsh even in my legalism. Now as I am being renewed in grace, it really bothers me that I taught that, there were actually some things that I have gleened from those DVD's that have helped me even now. But most of it was all scare tactic, dangling their path to hell in front of the "sinners" nose. Now of course I am off and on dealing with the guilt of having ever taught it to begin with, always going in a circle it seems. Anyway, all I really wanted to say was that I like hearing the encouragement of giving the truth of the love of Christ, in love for love.
Peace to you,

Aida said...

Ron, we all have regrets regarding what we've taught. My regret is that I raised my children in religion and now I have to live with the mistakes that I made.

Also, I was a youth leader as well as a teacher for adults. ALL my teaching was laced with legalism. I wish I could do a lot of things over again but my consolation is that Father knows the end from the beginning and took my mistakes into consideration.

Maureen said...

Bino this is a great post. I relate to a lot of what you say here. I used to be always looking for a way to get my "foot in the door", so to speak, in trying to slip in scriputre or relate something in a conversation to the person's need of Christ. Usually ended up with "foot in mouth." I used to feel this huge responsibility to "get people saved" somehow. Guess I didn't think the Holy Spirit could do without my interference.

God does use us in spreading the truth. But for most of us, it is as we are in relationship with people, so that they can see the love and power of Christ in our lives. When we take on a confrontational attitude, they will slam the door in our face.

Apologetics is something that always confused me. It sends a message that we must always have the right answers, and speak in such a way as to convince the other person of the truth. But the Word says that no one will come to the Father without the work of Holy Spirit.

How much better to rest in our relationship with Jesus, to draw near to Him, and trust that as we relate to others, Christ in us will draw people to Himself.

When we look at the unsaved around us, and remember God's grace to us, we have to say "there but for the grace of God go I." That in itself helps us to have compassion, and not judge them.

There is a time and place for "preaching", but I like this saying. It goes something like this:

"Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words."

Our lives can preach the gospel, as we show the love of God to others. Not by imposing ourselves on them, but by meeting them where they are, and walking with them through their daily struggles. By being real, and admitting our own weakness, we can point them to the One who is our strength.

Thanks for this great reminder.

Bino M. said...

Amy (LW) - I too am dealing with it (still). And (so) I am tempted to use the same scare tactics on others sometimes.I want to get out of it. I want to tell people that Jesus loves them AS they are...

Ron - Thanks! Millions of study materials all around the world used by millions of Christians are based on fear, hell, behavior modification, what we should 'do' etc. It's pathetic! Isn't it amazing that the good news over the years became 'bad' news and for some it's a 'tough' news?

Aida - what you shared is beautiful...

Maureen - Beautiful comments! I am glad you mentioned 'apologetics'. In fact, it comes under this issue of sharing the Gospel. I have spent a whole lot of time in it, thinking that I should prove everything scientifically and logically. but the truth is the good news Jesus brings us is not that 'logical'. It's illogical to our human brain. It's so good to be true. He did everything on our behalf, there is nothing left for us to do other than believing in what he has already accomplished. WOW!