Proclamation and demonstration; two words that are used to describe the gospel in Christian circles. I have yet to meet an individual who's take on evangelism doesn't lean towards one of these two emphases. Those of us who follow Christ with our lives will identify with one of these two expressions of the gospel more easily than the other. Some of us will be comfortable with using our words (written or verbal) to communicate the truth about Jesus Christ, while others will be more keen on exercising the principle of love through tangible means.
When you examine the life of Christ, you will see that Jesus emphasized both of these practices in a balanced manner. There were times when He used words to speak truth, and other times His actions were the key in his communication strategy (um...like the cross maybe??). In typical Christian fashion however, we seem to think that the answer to the question of evangelism is a one or the other approach rather than a both and.
The narrative of scripture as a whole speaks to the pursuit of a way of life that is different than what is in our default human programming. From the nation of Israel, to Jesus, to Paul (and others) you will see this call to live life to the full; according to God's rhythm and design. Some scholars suggest that this is the very reason God chosen to set apart an entire nation for Himself (Israel). The purpose in being set apart from others, was for the nation of Israel to tangibly demonstrate what living life according to its' original design is meant to be. In our humanness, we Christians often take this gift of a new way to live and see it as a tool from which we are able to compare ourselves to others and justify how we interact with those who have yet to experience life in Christ. You see this time and time again throughout the biblical narrative. The nation of Israel reaches this crescendo where they believe they are better than everyone else. In that moment, they shift their focus off of following God and onto making sure others know how different they are. Rules, structure and strategy replace intimacy, relationship and freedom. People begin to de-emphasize the discipline of demonstration and prioritize the pursuit of proclamation.
Rabbit trail....imagine for a moment being on a first date with someone. Can you picture yourself trying to get to know the other person by simply explaining what you are against? "Hi Candace, my name is Bill. I don't drink, don't smoke, don't believe in cursing and don't agree with divorce or abortion. That's my in a nutshell!!" All of these issues are great conversation topics, but void of the demonstration of relationship (spending time together, listening, etc.), these issues become labels more than anything...and we all know how difficult it is to get rid of a label that someone else has put on us!!
What I'm trying to communicate here is that the Church in North America is erringly similar to that of the nation of Israel during one of its' crescendo moments. If you listen to the news, the world at large understands what the church is against, but do they understand what the church is for?
Revival begins with authenticity. If our culture is telling us anything at the moment, it is yelling to us as the church "show me before you tell me." Discipleship is about a balanced approach to telling and doing. If we, the church, desire to see revival come to Canada in a way that will rock our entire nation, I truly believe we must step our game in the demonstration portion of the discipleship equation. Let's earn the right to be heard, by demonstrating what the gospel is by how we live. North America doesn't need more well adjusted, well rounded, well educated Christians...we need radical, passionate, word-changing followers of Jesus!!
Changing the world begins with one choice at a time...choosing to do and to be exactly what the church is supposed to be!
Had a lot of fun with this one.
This is the second of a 3-part conversation on racism and the response of the local church. Join us as we learn, listen and grow.
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