Tag Archives: gospel

We Must Share the Gospel

Man Praying

Sharing the gospel is a difficult exercise. As Christians, we are commissioned to tell people about Jesus…it’s a mandate of the highest order for those of us who follow Christ. Yet, I dare say that you or I have shared the gospel lately.
Sure, we can justify our silence by saying our actions testify about the gospel and, thus, we demonstrate what the gospel is. People should see it in the way we live in our society and feel compelled to proclaim Jesus as Lord. But, I don’t live like that. My best intentions of obedience to the commands of Jesus are littered by actions that could best be labeled as anti-Jesus. After all, I need the gospel as much as the next fellow.

Still, how many people do I meet daily that know that I’m a follower of Christ? Who have I told? What life has been changed by the gospel because I shared – spoke, verbalized, proclaimed – the gospel?

lightstock_73260_small_mark_mooreThe odd thing is, I’m constantly reading about the gospel and how to share it. I’m learning how to be more persuasive in conversations with unbelievers. I listen to podcasts that feature theologians and Christian leaders unravel doctrine. I’ve even committed to learning the best way get across the “bridge” and share the gospel with Muslims. It’s all there…all of the how, what, and who of sharing the gospel is at my disposal, yet, I just can’t seem to get to the who and where part.

Lord knows, I’ve tried.

My neighbor doesn’t go to church, not that I know of. The problem is, when he moved in, and I walked into his yard to introduce myself and welcome him to the neighborhood, part of our conversation led to our own occupations. He knows I’m a “preacher.” Now, he avoids me like the plague. To be fair, there’s not an urgency on my part, either, to force the issue. You know, the conversation where I get into the spiritual, uncomfortable questions.

R.C. Sproul, pastor, speaker, and theologian, preached a sermon at his church, St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford, Florida, on the Transfiguration of Jesus, from Luke 9:28-36. I can’t quote specifically from the sermon, but Sproul began by saying that if he made a list of the top things he could have witnessed as a believer in the 1st century, the resurrection of Jesus would obviously be at the top of the list. But, Sproul places the Transfiguration a close 2nd. His observation was that the obvious courage and boldness the 1st century Christians possessed was because they had seen and witnessed first-hand the glory of God in Jesus. It’s no wonder the early believers and apostles shouted the gospel-message of Jesus, despite persecution and ridicule. They had seen the power, the majesty, the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

St Paul preachingIn this day and age, when our Christian faith is ridiculed, and absolute truth is pushed away, we must yearn for the same passion that those 1st century believers possessed and share the gospel in every opportunity. While we have not witnessed the resurrection, or the Transfiguration, or any of the other events which give us a glimpse of glory, we do have the revelation of God in scripture. That divinely-inspired book should be our passion to fuel the proclamation of the gospel.

Jesus saves!

 

3 Comments

Filed under Commentary

A Southern Solution to Racial Violence

I was born in Texas.  I was raised in Mississippi.  I live in Tennessee.  I am not racist.

If, by that criteria, you think I am, well…bless your heart.

ema2The recent event in Charleston, South Carolina, at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church, has caused the debate, discussion, and accusations of racism in America to heat up.  It’s being bantered about at great length in the media, and talking heads are stopping just short of reaching across the desk to strangle their opponent.  The media, and even some of our national and state leaders, see a problem.  It seems as though they’ll not stop until tension has escalated and we’re all staring at our TV screens, wringing our hands and hoping someone will save us.

History is a Teacher

The popular solution, it seems, is to rid the public square of all things Confederate.  Dixie, the Rebel Flag, and bronze busts of Confederate Army generals are being blamed.  Apparently, if these things aren’t displayed and revered, then people like Dylann Roof won’t walk in shoot black people because…well…they’re black.

For the record, I am against the public display of the Confederate flag on public property and at national and state facilities.  I am not, however, in favor of erasing our history. By that, I mean . our collective history as a nation.  We need to know our history, if for no other reason that we won’t repeat it.  Forgetting our history and wiping it from public view will not benefit us.  It can only hurt us, and may doom us to go down that road again.

The Cesspool known as the South

The other popular solution seems to be to cast an permanent pall onto the South and its people, writing the region off as permanently cast into the mold of racism.  The usual mode of those who stereotype Southerners is to portray us as ultraconservative, non-progressive,  dim-witted folks who can’t catch up to the rest of the nation.  We’re portrayed as backwards, uneducated types who just don’t get it.  We have a Southern drawl and eat everything fried.  We are the problem, it seems, with the rest of the nation.

Jonah Goldberg, writing in the National Review, calls it “anti-South bigotry.”  In his article, he states, “There are few subjects that ignite more casual, uninformed bigotry and condescension from elites in this nation than Dixie.”  Phrases like “cesspool of hate” and “the enemy of all that is decent and good” are quoted in his article as observations about the South.  While Goldberg does redeem the South in his article, it is apparent that a less than favorable attitude towards the South exists in those Northern elitists.

Racism, or Racist

Regardless of what the media and others would have us do, I’ll go out on the proverbial limb and say that there is no institutional, endemic, or pandemic racism in America.  This nation has worked hard to make racial equality part of its laws, policies, procedures, and public life.  We have come a long way.  Regardless, racists are plenty.  There are those who hate a man because of the color of his skin, who think their race is superior to those who look different.  Removing war relics and changing history will not stop these people and their ilk.

As I said earlier, I’m not a racist.  I worship with African-Americans and Hispanics. I have friends who are Muslim.  My son lives with an Asian.  I don’t base anything on ethnicity or the color of skin.  On the flip side of the coin, I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to fear for my life, or to be treated differently, or to be refused service.  Regardless, I will not be part of treating someone differently because of who they are or what they look like.

The Ultimate Solution

The ultimate solution – the one which supersedes the ones mentioned earlier – is the gospel.  We are – all of us – created in the image of God and we are called to love each other as Christ loved us.  You and I, as unholy and wretched as we are, receive the love of Christ without condition.  To love Christ means we’re to love others – even a racist like Dylann Roof.

The people in Charleston are doing just that.  Instead of accusations and riots and more hate, they cling to unity and forgiveness and love, the very thing the Apostle Paul calls us to do in 1 Corinthians.  For the folks who want to blame history, or the character of Southerners, it is difficult to comprehend the one change that will solve the problem of senseless acts of racial violence.  It’s a deep-seated, transparent, life-altering change of the heart.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Commentary, History

Have We Forgotten Martin Luther King, Jr.?

hateI cannot fathom hate.

To say it differently, I cannot comprehend the loathsome, abhorrent and detestable dislike of a person – or group of people – simply for their race, creed, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Multiply that by a million for those who are followers of Christ.

If you are a Christian, and you pursue obedience to the Scripture out of love for God, then you cannot – no, you must not – hate simply because someone looks or believes differently than you do.  We love because we are loved by God, in spite of our unholy ways.

The Sins of Ferguson

In Ferguson, Missouri, we are found wanting in our love for each other.  And, much of the blame can rest squarely onal-sharpton1 the shoulders of the Reverend Al Sharpton.  In his efforts to pursue justice, he has, yet again, ridden in with guns blazing on the horse of racism to capitalize on tragedy and lynch any and every person who does not pursue the Sharpton brand of “social justice.” His message is not intended for peace, but more violence.  In his eyes, change comes, not because we hope in the gospel, but in fear and distrust.

Sharpton is a licensed minister.  To my knowledge, he has never pastored a church or preached the gospel day-in and day-out.  His critics have noticed, too.  Joseph Farah writes, “The man is an utter disgrace and shame to his professed religion of Christianity…He is a professional race hustler and shakedown artist, not someone to be revered.”

I am intensely saddened by the events in Ferguson.  The death of a young man, the behavior of all involved, and the culture that has created it and allowed it to happen.  Yet, I’m not sure Sharpton sees the real tragedy.  Sharpton wants to lead out in the process of justice.  He wants change.  The problem is, Sharpton’s need for self-promotion is greater than his love for the gospel and social justice.  Instead of preaching the words of hope, comfort, and love found in the gospel, as a minister should, he spews blame and injustice on everyone involved.

Leading from the Gospel

In March, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, African Americans were seeking the right to vote and organized a non-violent protest march from Selma to Montgomery.  The result that day, seen on national TV, is now known as “Bloody Sunday.”

The marchers made their way through Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they faced a blockade of state troopers and local lawmen…who ordered the marchers to disperse. When they did not, Cloud ordered his men to advance. Cheered on by white onlookers, the troopers attacked the crowd with clubs and tear gas. Mounted police chased retreating marchers and continued to beat them.

Sound familiar?  It should.  In Ferguson, police have been criticized for the level of their response to the initial violence and protests.  And Sharpton has capitalized on it, leading a march in New York City to protest the actions of police in the deaths of Eric Garner (NYC) and Michael Brown (Ferguson).  Martin Luther King, Jr., though, responded much differently to the events of “Bloody Sunday.”  Even though a federal district court judge had issued a restraining order prohibiting the march…

King proceeded to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the afternoon of 9 March. He led more than 2,000 marchers, including hundreds of clergy who had answered King’s call on short notice, to the site of Sunday’s attack, then stopped and asked them to kneel and pray. After prayers they rose and turned the march back to Selma, avoiding another confrontation with state troopers and skirting the issue of whether to obey Judge Johnson’s court order.

In his wisdom, Rev. King obeyed the authorities and incited not defiance, but prayer.  Here, a man of the Word sought to call attention to injustice by appealing not to the fear and anger and emotions, but to the highest power – the Almighty God.

A Model for Protests

mlk_identity-300This was not unusual for King.  Though he was criticized for his belief in non-violent protests, King’s faith in God grounded him well as he led the nation for social justice and civil rights.  In Letter from Birmingham Jail, King said:

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

King goes on to lay out the methodology to help the nation focus on injustice.  He says,

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of the gospel.  It showed in his leadership.  He was also a man of peace, and the world recognized that when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.  He will be remembered for all of time as a man who ushered in Civil Rights for African Americans, who ultimately gave the “final full measure of devotion” to a principle that was promised, not only in the Constitution of his nation, but in the gospel of his Savior, as well.

Al Sharpton would do well to remember Martin Luther King, Jr.  If he can.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Commentary