Discussion Board Forum 1
Submitted to Dr. Jon Bishop, in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the completion of the course:
EVAN 525-B10 LUO
Jeffrey Michael Davis
August 24, 2015
A fact most people either forget or deny is everyone has eternal life; where they spend it is determined solely whether they have a real relationship with God. John McRaney reminds us, “When so much of life revolves around our limited perspective, it is easy to forget that God was the designer of the universe and everything in it.” From the beginning of creation, God desires a relationship with us and He wants the same between His followers who are commonly referred to as a community of faith or as the body of Christ. Scripture illustrates how a cord of three is not easily broken, so the more we surround ourselves with likeminded individuals the less likely we are to break in trying times and the more effective we will be in fulfilling the Great Commission through personal evangelism.
Due to free will and the sin, which entered the world when man and woman disobeyed God, there was a separation from God that resulted. God through His Son, Jesus provided a way for humankind to be saved and enter back into a relationship with God if they would have a covenant relationship with Him. It is interesting from the Abrahamic covenant all the way to the Messianic covenant; God’s promise was if the people would follow Him, they would experience blessings and protection.
One error many individuals and churches make during the salvation and evangelism process occurs when they assure the new believer everything is going to be easier and better once they receive Christ. For most, it has the exact opposite effect because a true relationship with God requires sacrifice and real change in our thoughts and actions. While scripture says we can do all things through Christ, it also speaks about trials, tribulation, and persecution that Christians will endure. Daily, we must decide even though something is permissible; is it beneficial? The real breakdown occurs as these new believers try to navigate the stormy waters of life with no foundation of truth and no one around them to help them through whatever challenges have arisen. The church must learn how to stake themselves to each other so when trying times present themselves; they have each other to lean on and to encourage one another. We must then move from being salvation ticket takers to tour guides as we lead people to faith so they will come to realize Satan is no match for God, so he attacks what God loves most: His children. Then we need to explain how we exist to bring glory to God and the way we find joy and fulfillment is when our lives are centered on leading others to Christ.
There is a reason God chose us to spread the gospel. Even in our weakness and failures, we are still the ones Jesus told not only to spread the gospel, but also to love one another. This was how the world would know we are His disciples! When you look at Jesus, His work began well before His sacrifice on the cross. McRaney points out that, “His sacrifice gives hope for our hopeless state and hope is a deep human need.” The ministry of Jesus began with all the interactions he had with everyone in His life. The same is true today because people are constantly watching each other and if a Christian acts one way in church and another way outside the four walls, then they are doing more harm than good in evangelism and spreading the gospel.
God created us in His image, so our goal should be when others look at us they would see Jesus living in us. In this ever-changing contemporary world, you now have to earn the right to speak truth into someone’s life and you have to be willing to put his or her needs above your own. The sad reality is our culture is more concerned about themselves than the needs of others. In third world countries where people are starving, if you offer to feed them they will listen to whatever you have to say, but in our nation of indulgence the common persona is, “It is all about me.” The average number of encounters before someone makes a decision to follow Christ is now around 7.6 and what’s even more alarming is that only two percent of believers share their faith with others and only five percent of Christians have actually led someone to Christ. Our lifestyle and willingness to share our faith with our family and communities should be at the top of our list, but many are too concerned of rejection or damaging a relationship. If ninety-five percent of “so-called” Christians are unwilling to share their faith with people they consider close, then Christianity is in real trouble! Christians are called to spread the good news and as Yosef Abramowitz stated, “Any religion that does not consider itself valuable enough to share with nonbelievers is fated to crumble within.”
If this writer is guilty of anything, it’s being a fixer instead of a good listener. As Dr. David Wheeler would put it, I am a Barney Fife listener and I agree this trait is hard-wired into most men. It’s not that I don’t care or even that I don’t empathize; it’s just I come across so many people with the same problems and most of the time I know the solution and just like the illustration with Dr. Wheeler’s daughter, if she had done what he suggested in the beginning, she wouldn’t have had to endure six weeks of misery, but this generation coming up seems to unfortunately only learn things the hard way. I love what Dr. Wheeler says about listening equaling love. This is so true in our culture and people are desperate to have someone truly care, listen, and empathize with them. This type of listening only occurs when we use our eyes, ears, and heart.
Another area that is different today than in the past is acts of kindness and relationships must be formed over time to earn the right to share your faith. We must also be vulnerable, visible, and verbal in our encounters. If we are not authentic, people will never care what we have to say. Dr. Wheeler poses a question, how we must continually ask ourselves as believers: are we more like Christ, or are we more like his disciples in the story portrayed in John 4? In this encounter, Jesus did several things we must also do to everyone we come across. He was intentional in his travel to Samaria and open to the Spirits leading, He initiated a conversation with someone who was a harlot and considered a half-breed among Jews, He affirmed her humanity and value, and then He helped her understand who she was in God’s eyes. It is truly amazing how her salvation eventually led to her village being saved and quite possibly led to the revival in Samaria all because Jesus stopped at the well and said, “Give me a drink.”
In closing, the final point that resonated within me was Dr. Wheeler’s comment about the church being famous for shooting those who are injured instead of showing empathy. This world we live in is lost and hurting, but is also one where people are looking for hope anywhere they can find it. As the church, we should be the ones acting as a triage unit showing love, acceptance, and forgiveness. This only happens when we actively listen, empathize with their feelings, understand their perspective, and show them compassion. Are we more like Christ, or are we more like his disciples who not only ignored the Samaritan woman, but also Jesus when they returned to the well? Moving forward, I will strive to always ask myself what would Jesus do by not letting non-essentials distract me from the Great Commission and my calling.
McRaney, John. The Art of Personal Evangelism. Tennessee: B&H Publishing, 2003.