This title touches on an area of life that many would prefer to avoid, talking to others about Jesus. One of the great dangers of our desire to make the account of Jesus appeal to others is that we compromise the real message. The simple truth is the Gospel is confrontational and controversial.
This past Sunday, as one of our pastors covered the next passage of 2 Corinthians in our study of Authentic Ministry, I was reminded of the challenge of sharing the Gospel. It is said, when it comes to getting in shape, “No Pain, No Gain!” If you have ever tried to get in shape, lose weight or accomplish a goal in your life, you know the sacrifice and difficulties involved. I am reminded that the Apostle Paul battled with telling individuals the truth about Jesus. Requesting prayer from the Ephesian church he writes, “and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,” (Ephesians 6:19)
Recently I came across a flap about high profile church leaders that have compromised the message of Jesus to appeal to those that do not yet know Jesus. The Bible does remind us to be sensitive to those that are not Jesus’ followers. The Apostle Peter put it this way, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15) I want you to notice the admonition about our attitude in the words “gentleness and respect.” These both speak not only to our attitude but also our presentation. But what is often overlooked is the early admonition “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Paul reminds us that we need to be sure to tell people the truth about Jesus.
The flap mentioned above involved well known preachers attempting to appeal to the culture by twisting and watering down the message of Jesus to appeal to a current cultural attitude. Let me remind you that we must deal with those that do not yet know Jesus with gentleness and respect, but we must also tell them the truth. The message of the Gospel (Good News) is that Jesus took the sinner’s place on the cross. Thinking about this I was struck by the words of the Apostle Paul, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) The wonderful reality is that those of us who are known by Jesus have experienced this first hand. I am never amazed to hear for the youngest child to the senior citizen that battle they faced to surrender to God.
I am so thankful that someone in my life took the risk, with gentleness and respect, to tell me the truth about my condition and God’s provision in Jesus. The blessing is that my life was radically transformed! The least that we can do is pay it forward by sharing the message of Jesus with others.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson