Friday, July 29, 2011

Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing?


Carl Medearis with Sheikh Nabil Qawouk Hezbollah’s number two leader.
Image courtesy CNNBelief

Perhaps we should stop evangelizing because people don’t like us? Maybe it brings division among communities! Maybe because Jesus is the uniter of humanity, and not the divider?

Carl Medearis, former missionary, writing for CNN Belief in an article entitled “My Take: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing,” feels that we should not evangelize, especially among Muslims, it seems, and rather just getting people to become more like Christ, regardless of their religion.

I have written a few short comments on what I think of Medearis’ “Take” on evangelism. I quote what he says, and then make my short comments.

"It may come as a surprise to many Christians that Muslims are generally open to studying the life of Jesus as a model for leadership because they revere him as a prophet."

The question is, what resources do they use to study the life of Jesus? It certainly is not the New testament, since they have already made up their minds that the New Testament manuscripts have been corrupted countless times. So, it has to be from what the Koran says about Jesus, and... the Koran is dead wrong about Him!

"Encouraging anyone and everyone to become an apprentice of Jesus, without manipulation, is a more open, dynamic and relational way of helping people who want to become more like Jesus — regardless of their religious identity." One must wonder what Medearis means by "regardless of their religious identity."

Does he mean that we must invite people to become more like Jesus, but still remain Muslims, Buddhists, etc? This is the exact opposite of what the gospel teaches us!

"This us-versus-them thinking is odd, given that Jesus was constantly breaking down walls between Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, men and women, sinners and saints. That’s why we have the parable of the Good Samaritan."

Jesus Himself set up this "us-versus-them thinking" when He declared to Nicodemus, "he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (Jn 3:18) Jesus also said, whoever "is not with Me is against Me." (Mt 12:30)

"Jews in Jesus’ day thought of the Samaritans as the violent heretics, much the same way that Christians think of Muslims today. The idea that a Samaritan could be good was scandalous to first century Jews."

A Samaritan that does good, or a Muslim that does good, is still a lost Samaritan or Muslim, until such a person denies himself, and takes up his cross and follows Christ (Mt 16:24). Acceptance in the kingdom of God is not according to how good you are, but is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross, something a Muslim without the quickening of the Holy Spirit in his heart will never accept. While he will accept Jesus as a prophet, he will never accept Christ, as God, born from a woman, who died on the cross and rose three days later. That is scandalous to the Muslim mind!

"Even the Apostle Paul insisted that it’s faith in Jesus that matters, not converting to a new religion or a new socio-religious identity."

While Paul "insisted that it’s faith in Jesus that matters," he definitely did not insist that it would be any old faith in Jesus. It had to be true faith in Jesus. A faith that was based on substance, substance provided by the gospel. It is for this reason that he could write in Galatians against those that preached a wrong gospel,

"7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" (Gal 1:7-9)

For Paul there was no easy faith. In this faith, you could lose your life, be stoned, whipped, jailed, lose family and friends, or even jobs. This is not a faith that leaves you in your religious trappings. In fact, Christ brings liberty from these trappings and raises you as a Christian before men, not a uniter of humanity.

"What if evangelicals today, instead of focusing on 'evangelizing' and 'converting' people, were to begin to think of Jesus not as starting a new religion, but as the central figure of a movement that transcends religious distinctions and identities?"

Whatever Medearis wants to call this movement, Jesus gave this movement a name. He called it the Church. "I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." (Mt 16:18) It is for this reason that one cannot escape the harsh reality for anyone who believes in Christ, you have to be part of the church, and not just the church universal, but the local church. The local church is not Muslim, Buddhist, pagan, ancestral, but thoroughly Christian!

"Jesus the uniter of humanity, not Jesus the divider. How might that change the way we look at others?”

Jesus did not come to unite humanity. In fact, he came to bring division. He said that "[b]rother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 You will be hated by all because of My name" (Mt 10:21-22). He also said,

"51 Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Lk 12:51-53)

This division will be based on what humans make of Christ.

Christianity's main task is the proclamation of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

"13 for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.' 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!'" (Rom 10:13-15)

"Funny thing is, Jesus never said, 'Go into the world and convert people to Christianity.' What he said was, 'Go and make disciples of all nations.'"

Rather, the funny thing is, when Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, He did not mean leave them in the mess they are in! Becoming a disciple of Christ means to take stock of your life, to count the cost. If we do not bring that before those we are preaching the gospel to, then we fail to let them know that following Christ is not a walk in the park, and in many cases, persecution could be the result. While salvation is free, it certainly isn't cheap, easy believism! Take up your cross and follow Me, Christ said!

While we do not preach Christianity, we preach the gospel, which results in believers being added to the church. While many see Christianity as a political movement, Christianity is made up of the followers of Christ!

Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway
“I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have revived me.”
Psalm 119:93 [Listen!]
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...