Midweek Wake-Up, March 3rd, 2018
I recently enjoyed a good discussion with a retired Christian leader over lunch. Somebody whom I count as a friend and whom I respect and one whom may well read this article. I inquired about whether there was any active evangelism happening in the place where he is now living. My friend described a number of “social” programs that were happening at the location. I acknowledged that those programs sounded very worthwhile. I explained, however, that I was thinking of “gospel” ministry where the gospel is a proclaimed life-saving message. I was surprised by my friend’s response. He quoted Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”. I think my friend sensed my disappointment.
Turns out that Francis of Assisi never did actually say those words and, it doesn’t seem a good fit for a man who sometimes preached, with words, in five villages a day. For more on Francis see the link below. The passage that we considered in Colossians last Sunday morning clearly doesn’t sit well with this often quoted dictum. Consider Colossians 4:3-6:
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
True, Paul clearly distinguishes between those called to the gospel ministry and the general congregation at Colossae. It’s also clear that believers are to live wisely in the way they act towards outsiders. Our social ministries at NSC are wonderful examples of this. However, the apostle Paul makes it very clear that gospel ministers and church congregants alike are both called to use words in proclaiming the gospel. Good behaviour should arouse an interest in outsiders that provides gospel opportunities, opportunities to share a message that can only be relayed with words.
I explained to my friend that the problem with the quote that he raised was that it was clearly contradictory to what the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the church at Rome:
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Rom 10:13-16)
NSC. God has placed you in particular relationships with particular people. You may be the only born again, gospel believing Christian that some of those people ever have a relationship with. Are you praying for and living for gospel opportunities. And when those opportunities come are you ready to speak the only words that can bring new life. For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. (Rom 1:16)
Read about Francis of Assisi here:
Keith Greens challenge to the western church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yJd0JMzq7k