Just a little nugget of a thought which has been buzzing round my head quite a lot of late. I find in my own life I’ve started to overcome any sense of the ‘stigmata’ of being a Christian – ie, being afraid to speak up for what I believe because I’m too concerned about what people’s preconceptions about religion might be.
I guess this is due to the fact that I just had to get used to doing a lot of evangelism last year on our church’s training course. It helped me to learn to generally be more bold in my witness, which is just what I needed.
But there’s something else which has really been provoking me in this area now too. Of course, we KNOW that we ought not to be ashamed of our message – so why is it that we feel that way sometimes? That’s not the question I’m out to answer exactly except to say that I’ve now come to a place of more peace where I know in my HEART that I am not ashamed, rather than just in my head. This is the place all Christians need to get to.
And one of the things that has driven me towards this place is the thought that I want to share here.
I have realised, with what I have learnt about history, that the movers and shakers, the world changers, were not people who tried to be inoffensive, culturally relevant/acceptable, or quiet and unobtrusive on other people’s views. Think about anyone who has made a serious mark in history: Ghandi, Mother Teresa…Hitler, Stalin…Luther, Wesley…Wigglesworth, Evan Roberts…. All of these and many others made tremendous impact on their societies and denominations, yet it always came at the price of being DIFFERENT – and quite often offensively so.
Obviously I have included there examples from across the board, including in the same list dictators and revivalists, but I believe they all hit on this same thing. It’s WHAT you choose to pioneer which determines the fruit of the impact you have. Sadly, evil men have stood up and been unafraid to speak out their message, even if it has led to the slaughter of millions.
But He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. And the greatest history changer of all time, as you may know, lived this beyond all others. He was uncompromisingly bold in His message, yet managed to tender it with outrageous grace. His message was clear and simple: the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Everything He did and taught, effectively, was to do with the kingdom. He too paid that price. They took such offense at Him that they nailed Him to a cross. But of course the enemy He was after was not even the religious minds of the day, but death itself, and it was death that He conquered.
You may know the Gospel story. But I just wanted to remind the reader of how uncompromising Jesus was in His message. You cannot read the Gospels and believe that He wanted His followers to be culture-pleasing saps who try to weave their whole message to please people according to what the mainstream media is saying.
I haven’t got to the main bit so enough waffle. What I have discovered, what has been most surprising (and would especially surprise those who are sincerely keen on seeker sensitivity and cultural relevance) is this: those who carried uncompromising messages, most especially Jesus, had great followings! Many people wanted to hear what they had to say! They may have been thoroughly dislikable, but that would probably have been to those who were over-comfortable in their cultural context. But when someone springs up with a message that is clear and without contradiction, and is demonstrated by the lifestyle of the one that preaches it, it is amazing how many people want to hear this kind of message!
My point is this: Christians really REALLY ought to stop being ashamed of the good news, not only for the obvious reasons that a) the Bible says so and b) it’s good news, but c) because there really really really are people out there who are hungry for a message, a cause, a lifestyle, which demonstrates absolute conviction and forwardness, and they will flock to one who preaches in this way. Let’s stop being afraid of the threats and the offenses that will be caused by one or two, and look instead at the harvest and see that it is white! I totally believe this was Jesus’ approach, and it ought to be ours also.
Lord help us preach Your good news without compromise.