Hello all! Its Michael...it's been a while since you have seen me on here. I have been out swimming in the sea of seminary just trying to keep my head above the water line. It has been great so far, I only wish that I had more time to soak in some of the stuff I am reading and learning. Now that I am on spring break, I am playing catch-up, but I am also taking it easy and attempting to reflect on what the Lord has shown me thus far. I thought I would make a post to record some of that...so here is a humble attempt to share.
Approaching culture and the unbelieving world....My thoughts below on a book I read called Learning Evangelism From Jesus, written by one of my professors, Jerram Barrs.
I must say, there is a great deal that I can take from this book to apply to my own life, but I will attempt to be concise and to discuss the things that most impacted my thoughts on evangelism. There is something so simple and yet so very extraordinary about the idea of learning evangelism from Jesus. In my mind, I affirm the fact the Jesus is the greatest evangelist, but it is not until I read this book, and contemplated the nature in which Jesus seeks the unbeliever, that I gained a greater understanding of what evangelism truly is.
As I fight with the little pharisee that is in me, I have received weapons for that battle in this book. One theme that runs through this book is that every human being has been created by God to bear His image. This is something that I have always known, but have often failed to truly see. In my own sin, I often times look at another person and only see the ugliness of their sin rather than their beauty as an image bearer. How then, can I see God's image in others? How is that supposed to flesh out in my life? I get an answer to my question when I look at how Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus looks beyond the social barriers of His day to reach out to a woman who is a social outcast in every way. Jesus dignifies her by asking her for some water. He shows her (and the rest of us for that matter) that she has something to offer. She bears God's image in something as simple as being able to provide a drink of water to someone who is thirsty. By looking for the good things that a non-believer has to offer (the common grace of God) I am able to truly see God's image in that particular person. In so doing, I am then able to build a bridge on this foundation. The Syrophoenician woman's love for her daughter, and the centrurion's care for his servant and reputation among the people were bridges that Jesus used to bring the gospel to them. Each of them were bearing God's image in a particular way.
When do I give the law to someone and when do I give the gospel to another? This is another question that is addressed in this book. I have always thought of evangelism as sharing the good news of the gospel with the unbelievers of the world. After looking at how Jesus gives the law to some and the gospel to others I am beginning to see that it is necessary to understand the needs of the person. The religious upright people who are attempting to obtain their own righteousness are the ones who need to understand their own depravity and need for a savior before they will be receptive to the good news of the gospel. Those are the individuals who will need to hear more law in hopes that they will understand that they cannot fulfill the law. On the other hand, there are many who are completely aware of their brokenness and sin. These individuals will only be further condemned by the law, and are in desperate need of hearing the gospel of grace. When Jesus extended forgiveness to the sinful women who washed His feet with her tears, He was meeting her deepest need. On this very same occasion, when Jesus challenges the righteous man by asking him why he did not greet Jesus with a kiss or wash his feet, Jesus was meeting his deepest need as well.
When it comes to evangelism, I am often troubled by knowing what to say or when to say it. The great encouragement that I have received from this book is that Jesus is truly the greatest evangelist and the only one who is able to convert the hearts of men. The great hope that I have is that it is, therefore not up to me to change the hearts' of the unbelievers. I am to simply humble myself in obedience to God as a co-laborer with Jesus.