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Love’s Winning Way

19 Jul
from Google Images

from Google Images

I was struck once as a member of a prayer group, praying for dozens of teams of two, leaving our church to canvas neighborhoods in nearby communities.[1] Their intent was to tell people of a certain evangelistic event coming to our church, hoping folks would agree to come and witness the affair. I recall that some training of the teams was given, but the thing that really stands out in my mind was the statement in the training exercise that, if we speak to ‘x’ number of people, a specific percentage of ‘x’ will come to the event. I wondered, “…where is the Holy Spirit in this labor?” After all, if the law of chance is able to predict the outcome of a given exercise, do we really need God to bring about what we know will occur? How would my praying affect the expected outcome? If I fall from a precipice, the law of gravity will bring me to the ground; I can pray that God will save me from the fall, but I don’t need to pray that God will do what gravity is expected to do.

Love doesn’t play the percentages! Love is very specific and is a choice. Jesus never took advantage of available crowds. Rather, he often went to the fields and the countryside and the crowds gathered to where he was—no manipulation, no canvassing neighborhoods in an effort to get people to come to him. It seems that none of what we do today was done by Jesus—except that we preach the Gospel. The methods are different, but does the end justify the means? Is such a thing ever proper? Certainly Jesus was God—he may have been flesh and blood like you and me, but he was God in the flesh (John 1:14). I suppose, then, that any method Jesus used would have been his right to do so, but we don’t find him using just any method, do we? The appearances of this world’s celebrities are publicized long in advance in the places where they intend to be available to the public. We, in the church, do the same; but we need to ask ourselves into whose image are we being pressed (cp. Romans 12:12 and 2Corinthians 3:18).

One may point to the fact that Jesus sent his disciples into the cities where he intended to stay as he journeyed to Jerusalem (Luke 9:52), but we would err, if we tried to claim that Jesus was looking to people to prepare a large audience for his arrival. Rather, he sought their hospitality in giving him and his disciples a place to stay overnight and food for their journey. The context shows those cities refused to receive him, because it wasn’t Jesus’ intention to preach there (Luke 9:53) but to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The Samaritans, to whom the disciples were sent, also celebrated the Holy Days of Leviticus 23, but their holy place was in competition with that in Jerusalem (John 4:20).

I have to wonder what it would look like, if we waited upon the Lord to supply the people for us to evangelize. Would it be like a gifted evangelist going unadvertised from church building to church building, being received by some and rejected by others? The crowds who gathered to where he spoke would be the result of word of mouth. Those affected deeply by what the evangelist said would speak to friends and neighbors, and this would occur from church to church and city to city. Folks aren’t going to hell, if they decide not to come. My friend is still my friend weather he comes or not. My neighbor is still my neighbor, and I don’t separate myself from family members, who simply aren’t interested in my invitation to share in the experience that affected me so deeply. It could be likened to me telling them about a powerful movie, or an exciting sports event that would be repeated.

The invitation to experience a God-event is a personal appeal to the mind and heart of a specific person. Folks aren’t ‘x’ who must be approached in order to call out God’s percentage. Evangelism is an important call given to specific people who were invited by other people who were told by people who heard the evangelist. People answer the call of God, because they’ve been touched by the Spirit of God to expect something real to take place—something important. Evangelism is not accidental, the fruit of a commercial or the result of the law of chance. Jesus simply doesn’t come to us that way. He chose to be with us, and he invites each one of us, specifically, to be with him.

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.

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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Kingdom of God

 

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