Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, June 26, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar
Click Here to Download the Four Neighbors Activity
Scripture Reference: 1Corinthians 9:19-23
“How much do you have to hate someone, to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them about it?” That is a quote by Penn Jillette, a performing magician and known Atheist. Can you believe an Atheist said that!?!?!? ! Why is it that someone who doesn’t even believe in God gets it, and those of us who follow Jesus, so often do not?
There seems to be two very strong views about evangelism in our Christian Culture. There are those who believe in abusive and manipulative tactics such as canvassing a mall with tracts, holding up signs or using bullhorns on street corners or at stadium events, or vomiting Jesus in every conversation they have with every person they meet. Then there are those that use the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always, and use words if necessary,” as an excuse to say, “My actions should show Christ without having to say anything.” This then becomes an excuse never to share the hope of Jesus with others.
Somewhere in the middle ground must be the truth. We must be willing to share our faith without being a scary, obnoxious, jerk. Even then, people may have an issue with it, but at least we are doing our part.
I wrote in my personal blog about a couple of girls talking about the issue of proselytizing. Like so many others in our world, they didn’t believe that a person should share their faith. I don’t understand that point of view. I am more like Friar Tuck in the 1991 Movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, when he says to Azeem the Moor, “Let us open a bottle and do our best to save each other's souls.” If you are a Muslim, an Atheist, or just about any other belief system, I’m willing to sit down and have an open line of discussion.*
Don’t you think there is more of an issue with a person who has a belief that is life changing who doesn’t want to share it with those they care about? Especially when it is something as important as eternal life!
If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, they you are called to make disciples. You are called to share your faith with your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. What’s more, I would hope that you urgently desire to do so. You would warn them if they were in a burning building. You’d try to save them if a car was bearing down on them on the street. Why in the world wouldn’t you care enough to share the hope of our Lord with them, a hope that could save them for eternity?
Yes. It is scary to put yourself out their and share your faith. Yes. Some people take offense to any mention of religion. Yes. They might reject you.
Or… Maybe they won’t. Maybe if you have spent the time getting to know them, concerning yourself with their values, listening to their story, touching their life: then maybe they will listen. You have to earn the right to be heard.
This isn’t about manipulation. It isn’t about false pretenses or pushy sales tactics.
It is about relationships.
It’s about caring enough about those who care about you that you can share hope with them.
I would much rather you share Christ in small ways on a regular basis with those ten to twelve people who are close to you in life than to hand out a thousand silly tracts to people you don’t know. One way is making disciples, the other is annoying and provides little or no follow-up to help a potential new disciple take more steps.
Whatever happens, we CANNOT let the our fear keep us from sharing our hope with those close to us.
God calls us to it, and if we care enough about someone else, then we must share in love.
* I have a standing offer: If you want to talk about God, have questions about the Bible, are interested in spiritual things, want to talk, or just want to share your story: I’ll meet you at a local Phoenix coffee house or restaurant and buy the first cup of coffee (or tea, soda, etc.) Just visit www.mvccaz.com and click on the ‘Free Cup of Coffee’ button at the bottom of the page.