It may just be the people or organisations that I ‘follow’, but as I look through my Twitter feed I notice that the vast majority of comments are on issues such as justice, food banks, trafficking, gender issues, politics etc.
All of this is of course very good indeed. Before you get grumpy with me, yes I do think that Christians should be engaged with the world, and yes I do think we should be leading the charge in many of these areas. It’s fantastic that Christian leaders (mostly, if not exclusively women, in fact) comment on the papers on BBC News and Sky TV. It’s great that the Evangelical Alliance has staff who are engaged with parliament and it’s fantastic there are big ministries engaged with family life, politics, trafficking and poverty.
There is however a noticeable and surprising absence in all the comment. The stories of radical transformation through the proclamation of the gospel. Sure, there are some, but in no way to the same frequency as the other stuff. I’ve started to wonder why this is.
After all, any speed-read through the gospels and you soon notice that most of the content is about finding and saving the lost. Yeah ok, it’s old-school terminology, but that’s what Jesus calls people who don’t know him, so thats good enough for me. So I ask the question: “If the majority of the content of the gospels is about salvation, why isn’t that reflected in our activity and comment?”
Have we lost confidence in the fact that the simple proclamation of the gospel has the power to radically transform lives? I don’t think it’s a lack of confidence in the gospel that is at the heart of the problem. The problem is that we have drowned out the message of the cross through lots of activity that was inspired by the cross in the first place.
In a nutshell – have we stopped actually telling people about Jesus?
Also, have we stopped believing that the radical transformation of society and the end of injustice will come through people meeting Jesus Christ?
It may be that you haven’t personally done this, but let me tell you that when I talk to Christians about evangelism, I soon discover that most Christians have never led anyone to Christ and most don’t have any non-Christian friends. Even people I know who get asked to speak on evangelism have privately told me that they don’t have friends who aren’t Christians. I find this troubling.
Here’s another truth: when budgets get tight the first thing denominations and mission agencies do is axe the evangelism/mission department. I suspect it’s because it doesn’t attract the money in the same way that other departments do. It’s time to think again.
The thing is that I’m discovering more and more that people are searching for God and that divine opportunities are all around us, all the time.
A few months ago I was speaking at a curry night in a small village with 22 men in attendance. One bloke stood out. Skinhead, tattoos, piercings, aggressive stare all the way through my talk. To cut a long story short we had a chat at the bar afterwards. It turned out he was a ‘general’ in the extreme far-right movement. He asked me if Jesus could forgive anything. I said yes, then he left.
It turns out that he didn’t sleep all night. The next morning, he went to a local church and found the pastor in his study. Moments later he was on his knees giving his life to Jesus Christ. I met him last week. He had renounced his old life, started afresh and gave me some tips on witnessing to people. I saw him in the corner (it was another curry night) praying with three other men, arms around each other. A transformed life, leading to a transformed society.
God is a God of justice and yes we need action to fix a broken world. But let’s not stop telling people about the one who can fix it and them.