When did we turn into wimps? Take a quick jaunt through the New Testament and you’ll see a different breed of believer. Most Christians then weren’t so much worried about what others thought about them as they were with God’s evaluation. Their burning desire was to make him happy. If that meant sharing the gospel in hostile environments to angry crowds-no problem! If that led to death, dismemberment or displacement-then so be it!
A lot has changed in 2,000 years.
I’m convinced that the early Christians would be PO’d at the PC culture today in Christianity, especially youth ministry. We are losing our battle because we have lost our bite. We are more concerned about being user friendly then we are about the salvation of souls.
Since when do we have to beat around the bush when it comes to our faith? Since when do we have to “earn the right to be heard”? Isn’t that what Jesus did when he died on the cross, rose from the dead and commissioned us from the mountain? If I recall he didn’t say,
“Go into all the world, build deep relationships, live your life out loud, then, when the watching world is so in awe of your godly life that they fall to their knees and say, ‘What is so different about your life? I want what you have! Tell me! Tell me! For crying out loud tell me!’ then, and only then, preach the gospel.”
We need to share it just like the early Christians did. When Peter stood up in the temple in Acts 2 he had no relationship with the crowd, but he shared the gospel and thousands came to Christ. When Paul preached the gospel on Mar’s Hill he had no relationship with the crowd, but he shared it and people got saved. When Jesus asked the women at the well for some water he had no relationship with her, but he gave her the living water and she became a satisfied believer.
I think, in the name of relationship, bridge building, listening, loving, etc., many of us in youth ministry have lost our gumption. We have chickened out…and blamed our relational style of evangelism
You get the point. Don’t be a wimp.
But don’t be a jerk either.
I was raised in a tight, right and extremely white church that preached with an “up yours” attitude. Yeah, sure we were bold but many times we were too pushy. If you didn’t listen to our manic monolithic monologue and respond with a “yes, I believe” well, you were a poor soul on the highway to hell. “NEXT!” We’d just move on to our next victim.
We used to look at “soulwinning” as a competition. “He who dies with the most souls wins” was the mantra we lived by. I’m ashamed of this now, but we would go to the mall, witness like crazy and then come back and compare numbers to see who was the best soul scalper.
As an evangelist I was a jerk.
But then I married a wimp.
My wife changed my life…and I changed hers. I brought her boldness. She taught me love. I showed her what to say. She showed me how to listen. I got her fired up. She got me calmed down.
You see it’s not an either or thing. It’s both and. Jesus told us to be salt and light, not salt or light. We “shake the salt” with our loving lives and “shine the light” with our verbal witness. We live it and give it. But we’re aggressive in both. And we’re caring in both.
Christians who share boldly without loving intensely are bull-horn, bull-headed blowhards (A.K.A. jerks) who turn off more people than they turn on to Christ. Believers who just love and listen (without ever sharing) are chickens…wimps of the worst kind.
Youth ministry needs bold, loving, caring, catalytic, concerned, unrelenting, uncompromising, unassuming evangelists who live it out loud and share it out loud. Courage combined with compassion. Intensity mixed with empathy. Proclamation married with incarnation.
George Whitefield used to pray before going into potentially volatile situations,
“God, give me the mixture of the lion and the lamb.”
That’s exactly what we need.
If we are going to lead our students into the battlefield of life then we need to do it by example. We need to show them how.
This means risk.
If you are naturally a wimp who tends to wait too long and miss a lot of opportunities in the name of bridge-building then you are going to have to risk starting sooner with the whole gospel thing.
If you are more of a jerk who tends to make people mad then you must risk taking time to listen and love in the midst of your proclamation.
Jesus was the ultimate balance. He knew when to speak up and when to shut up. He knew when to cry and when to confront. Jesus was never a wimp. He was never a jerk either.
Let’s be like Jesus.