Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Some ≠ All (Or-- Stop using guilt this way. Just stop it.)

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, we read:
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Eph. 4:11-12, NASB
 Verse 11 is often interpreted as:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as pastors and teachers, and EVERYBODY AND THEIR MOTHER as evangelists.
We do not tell people: Oh, you don't like public speaking? Well then you should get out of your comfort zone and become a teacher! I haven't heard that once. Nor have I heard: You have no ability to prophesy? Well get out of your comfort zone baby and lay some divine utterances on us!

But we often say: You don't like to evangelize? Get out of your comfort zone and come down to the corner, hand out these tracts and give the gospel to everyone you meet!

The hideous phrase "Get out of your comfort zone" is intended to guilt-signal: "If you're are a good Christian you'd do this."

This is often coupled with a nuclear weapon: with the Great Commission, as if it is typeset this way:
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. 28:19, NASB
The first phrase is used in isolation to imply that everyone should be in the business of making disciples. It is also assumed to mean not discipling (as it plainly states) but evangelizing, and in the overt sense of proselytizing on the street corner, beach, door-to-door, or by other forms of cold-calling. If you are not evangelizing, the lying guilt-trip goes, you are violating the Great Commission, and you are a second class Christian, at best.

The second phrase, assuming it is not omitted, is glossed over or ignored. Because it presents a problem. If the Great Commission is a personal call from your personallordandsavior, then everyone should be baptizing. But it's not that, It is a corporate call from our common Lord; a command for the church to disciple the world, corporately.

This does not absolve Christians from witnessing. First of all, we all are called to exhibit our faith 24/7.* And we are called to defend our faith when asked. And never be ashamed of our faith.** And I would certainly agree that if God presents you with an evangelistic opportunity that falls in your lap like manna from heaven, you should probably jump on it. But that is quite different from saying it is the duty of all of us to knock on doors. The body has many parts. And he gave some as gregarious evangelists.

* To the extent that I fail daily in that regard-- now that's a legitimate guilt trip. 

** Although I am often embarrassed by what people do in the name of our faith. Including but not limited to linking our faith to support of a President who brags about grabbing women by their genitals.

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