Saturday, May 24, 2008

preaching to the choir

There was a time, a few years ago, that I was more...fervent? More...excited about my faith? Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I was very willing and ready to talk about Jesus.

Here's the history: I had just recovered from a short, albeit, deep depression. Crying all day? check. Mentally cloudy? check. Reclusive? check. With this depression, came the conviction that I had been ignoring the God of the universe. I had gone to church, yes. And I had frequently talked about God on an intellectual level. But, I wasn't reading his Word like it was my daily sustenance. I wasn't praying like he was my dearest friend and highest king. I didn't cherish God in the quiet of my heart or in my thoughts. Actually, this conviction was happening way before I was brought down low into depression. I remember telling a friend (who clearly saw the signs of depression, based on her advice that I seek counseling and/or medication) something like, "Well, I just don't think I've got my priorities in order. I don't really spend much time reading the Bible or praying." So, basically, I felt conviction for a long while, but ignored it almost completely.

So, friends, I was brought down low. I was as helpless as a sheep stuck on its back. Through uncontrollable tears, I finally immersed myself in the Bible. I read the Psalms mainly. I cried out to God all my waking hours asking him to make my heart right. This went on for only a few weeks before I was restored. I had deep joy and satisfaction in God. My life was revived. And I just wanted to talk to Jesus and I wanted to talk about Jesus who rescued me from the pit of despair...and from hell. And, then I noticed something...

People. Christian people. They didn't feel the same way that I did. Not every Christian responded negatively. But there were enough. And they did not want to talk about Jesus. They didn't want to hear about Jesus. I'd ask deeper-ish questions and it would completely kill conversation. I remember one time finding out that a man from my church had just become a Christian a few years earlier and I asked him to tell me what it was like. I asked, "Aren't you excited to tell people about God's love and His salvation???" And his response? "I was at first. But, then you chill out."

I remember hearing this a lot: "You don't have to tell people the gospel. People will see how you're different and they'll wonder what's so different about you. And then you can tell them."

Seriously??? Seriously. I know, I know. There's that famous quote, "Preach the gospel wherever you go, and if necessary, use words..." or something. But, please. Isn't this often a free pass for us chickens to not mention offensive things like, SIN, JESUS, HEAVEN, HELL, CREATOR?

Basically, months and months of discouragement progressed and I, too, succumbed to "chilling out". But, there's a stirring in my soul and I'm seeking God in his Word daily again. Praise the LORD!!!

So, do you want to know the catalyst for this post???

My friend Holly asked her mother-in-law if she could practice sharing the gospel with her using "the Bridge Illustration". Her mother-in-law is totally into crystals and transcendental thinking. Basically, she believes that God is a leaf or a fish or whatever and everything is God and God is everything. So, she agreed to listening to the gospel message, but first said this in a sweet voice:

"Holly, you don't have to tell people what you believe. The way you live your life is already a witness."

This is so similar to what I've heard so many Christians say. And it came from someone who calls on spirits to heal people, someone who does not revere Jesus as any kind of Saviour.

Don't buy the lie, my Christian friends. And don't sell it either. Let's not rely on merely our good works and outward appearances to win the lost. Let's not rely on merely a well-kept lawn and tucked-in shirts. Let's not rely on merely our smiles and work ethic. Let's not rely on ourselves and, instead, let's rely very much on the actual message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.


sarah said...

Loved this...thank you for the reminder..we are such chickens...too scared...afraid of offending...relying on the tucked in shirts. LOVE you!! SARAH

Anonymous said...

Word up, Sis! Yeah, can you imagine the disciples blowing into town and then walking around being nice and pleasant to folks waiting with bated breath for strangers to just walk up and ask them why they’re so dang happy? Acts would’ve never been written. Or, at least it would’ve been really frickin long.

Also, the world is not attracted to Christians if they’re truly “acting Christian” anyway (i.e. broken, humble, dependent, weak, a spirit of deference, obedient, deep, passionate, etc.). The world (at least, the western world) likes fun, achievement/titles, self confidence, self absorption, health, strength, superficiality etc. There are plenty of folks walking this earth who possess such qualities and would be approached by a nonbeliever asking them how they got so cool long before a “real” Christian would be approached (if ever). And even for the qualities this world does honor (kindness, patience, love, good works, generosity, etc.), we all know there are oodles of atheists, humanists, new agers, Buddhists, and catholics (just joking, calm down) who out perform the average Christian in such virtues any day of the week.

In some ways, relying on one’s own behavior/attributes/life circumstance/personality to attract others is (or would have to be, to be effective) basically a health and wealth gospel.

Thanks for preachin it!

- A lowly tenor

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Acts 8:4

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. Acts 9:19-20

Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. Acts 11:20

When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. Acts 13:5

At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed. Acts 14:1

The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Acts 14:20-21 (and this, right after being stoned!)

As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said. Acts 17:2-3

Jenna said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for saying everything I didn't take time to say. And for saying the stuff I couldn't even articulate! I give mad props to the lowly tenor. (in exchange for disc one and two of season one!!)

Leys said...

Thank you, Jenna!! I went through a similar crisis and blind stage in my faith.. and I, too, notice the same exact thing and it drives me completely bonkers to have friends who are "Christians" but do not show fruit of their faith. The saddest part is that I used to be one of those Christians for MANY years. Christian circles are sadly becoming more and more like the world and consistantly trying to be more like the world to become "welcoming".. instead of becoming the much needed light; they start to blend in with the darkness.

Tiffany said...

What my heart has been heavy over as of late is what Holly's mom said. My head tells me that all of the time. Just live your faith and everyone will understand what you're about. Just BE different. No, Tiffany, you need to TELL people too. We have been commanded to go and tell! Thanks for the reminder and encouragement, Jenna.

Jenny said...

Thanks, friend.

I went through this "stirring" a year ago, when we were in the midst of coming to BBC. Oh, how I long to be stirred again! Love to read passionate posts.

Thanks for the encouragement.

sarah'ssister said...

I greatly appreciate your gift of expression. I really needed to hear that!

I feel like I've known you for years, through Sarah. Now I feel like I know you even better, through your blog. You, and your family, are truly delightful!


Jenna said...

Welcome, Karla!
Thanks for your nice words and reading along. I really never know how this stuff is going to land on readers. I hope to meet you some time! But, I too, feel like we've already met!

keitha said...

LOVE IT!!!! preach it friend.

Dawn S. said...

Someone once told me - "I like you because you say what everyone else is thinking" (please note - many people do NOT like me for this very same reason). But Jenna, I like YOU because you say what everyone is FEELING and/or NEEDS to hear. love ya.