Monday, July 24, 2017

Sacrosanct Christian Guilt

Even in many Christian circles that profess the Doctrines of Grace (or TULIP, or Calvinism, or Reformed, etc.) there is one inviolable Christian guilt: One's lack of ability to evangelize, to present the gospel to family, friends, co-workers, and complete strangers.

How many times have you heard Christians admit this as some sort of serious deficiency if not a dreadful sin, and how many times have pastors, elders, teachers, and Christians for whom this is routine send the message, no matter how obliquely, that we all should be doing this?

"It is not really easy for me either, but I do it, and you can too if you just are willing get out of your comfort zone."

I say to you, without diminishing the importance of evangelizing and proselytizing, that it is not for everyone. Living your faith, so as not to deny Christ--that I would say is by far the more universal command. But the body has many parts--all of which should work, in their own way, toward the common goal of spreading the gospel. You should not view something for which you are incapable as a test that you have failed. You will have a part to play and a contribution to make--but it may not be on the front lines.

Those who insist that jump-all-in evangelizing is a litmus test for true faith--they are the ones who should examine themselves. Pastors should not look down on those who cannot shepherd. Teachers should not feel superior to those who cannot teach. Those gifted in hospitality should not condemn those who are introverted. And those who are evangelists should use their gift, and not pressure others to join them.

The Great Commission, which is often used as a blunt instrument to create guilt is ill-suited for the task. It teaches no such thing.

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (Matt 28:16-19)

While not denying at all that the church has a mission to evangelize the world, it is clear that the Great Commission had an audience of eleven who, as messengers of God, were fully equipped with the ability to evangelize. They were to make disciples and baptize.

The next time someone uses the Great Commision to guilt or coerce you into evangelizing, ask them how many of those he evangelized did he, as required, also baptize?

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