Monday, March 5, 2012

Shame On You, Pastor

lifted up or out of reach??
I once took a seminary course on evangelism.  The course was “taught” by my own senior pastor.  One of the assignments of the course was to write a report on an evangelistic call.  I had been hoping to get my very worldly neighbor to think more seriously about matters of faith so I invited him to attend my discipleship group and then we talked afterwards while sitting in his Suburban.  Altogether, we spent three hours one Thursday morning delving deeply into the believability of the Bible and our commitment to its claims.  When I turned in the report, the my-way-or-the-highway pastor said, “You didn’t go into his house?  This isn’t an evangelistic call.”  And he commanded me to write up a different experience.

What do you think?  Was the pastor right?  Can you only share the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ by knocking at someone’s house, holding their storm door open, and barging in when they open the main door?  Is that the way it works? 

And don’t think this is an old-school, pastor-past-his-prime problem.  I sat in a church yesterday and heard this, “Do you know how much it costs to get someone saved?”  The energetic young pastor criticized people who unflinchingly spend hundreds at sporting events and then begrudge giving their tithe to the local church.  Fortunately, the evangelist had done the math for us.  He counted the cost of taking a lost soul to dinner three times, his travel costs, time costs, and then he amortized the cost of the church building on the occasions when the lost man visited.  He came up with the exact amount of George Washingtons it takes to secure a man’s soul in heaven - $3043 (or close to that).  I’m gonna get sick.  Let’s wash our brains out with a couple words from our Sponsor:
“…one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25b)
“…what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27b)
In the John 9 passage, a man born blind – whose vision was restored by Jesus – was pressed by the religious elite of his day to declare who Jesus was.  The blind man did what he should have done.  He stayed away from debating and simply told of his personal experience.  In Matthew 10, Jesus is sending out the disciples on their first “missionary journeys”.  He didn’t send them out with the answer to the Da Vinci code or the gift if palm-reading, nor did Jesus tell them, “bring them back to Me and I alone will get them saved.  Jesus simply said “confess Me before men” (Matthew 10:32).  That’s it.  That’s the entire plan of the Gospel and that is the entire cost of spreading the Gospel – your voice.

Follower of Jesus, here’s a dirty little secret not many other preachers will tell you – (I’m going to whisper this) you don’t have to take someone to church to get them saved.  That’s not what saves you.  You don’t have to sit on someone’s couch for three hours to get them saved.  That’s not what saves you.  All you have to do to get someone saved is tell them what your life is like now that your spiritual vision is restored.

After a day at church when I had some missionaries speak, young son Noah (the cookie monster) piped up at supper and said, “I’m going to be a missionary.”  I asked why.  He responded with cheer and confidence, “They touch people’s eyes every day.”  Well, I knew what he meant to say, “they touch people lives every day” and he just mis-heard it.  On the other hand…

Follower of Jesus, the unsaved see the world as a place of striving, of self-effort, and self-righteousness.  They see the world as a barren field from which they, through their own effort, have to eke a living.  They see a world full of hurt, disappointment, and rejection.  They see the world as a showcase of victories and losses.  They see the world as just getting even or just getting by.  They see the world in black and white. 

Before a person ever sees the inside of the church, they see you.  They see how you live, how you love, how you resolve conflict, how you serve others.  They see the Gospel of Salvation every day in you.  Add your confession to that.  “I believe in the love of Jesus.  I believe in the free gift of salvation.  I believe living a life according to the teaching of the Bible is best.”  Can you do that?  You’d save a pastor I know $3043.  You’d get an A+ in my seminary course.  Follower of Jesus, be a missionary.  Go out today, and touch someone’s eyes.

Clark H Smith

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