Oh great another gospel post. Is this guy obsessed or something?…One of the things I do to work out my thoughts is to write about them. You don’t have to read, but I appreciate it when people do read. Feel free to comment. A tragedy:
Recently there was a tragedy in my life. One of my coworkers, Ed, died. He literally just fell over dead while at work. He was 46 years old, and though he was not in great health, nobody expected him to die. I have worked alongside him for over 2 years. He was possibly the most likeable person I have ever known. I can’t imagine who he wouldn’t get along with.
When a thing like that happens there is a cycle of emotions that you go through. I believe that emotions are mostly outside our control. They happen at a visceral level. Emotions are why fear or phobias have a hold on us even though we understand that they make no rational sense. For me that gamut of emotions began with simple shock. I could not really do my job effectively, and I was just stunned. It is almost like every thought that is necessary to function properly is cut-off by this other thought, “I can’t believe it.” That shock was followed by simple sadness. I was sad because I’ll miss him and I was truly sad because his teenage boys no longer have a dad.
All of that is really introduction for what I want to write about today. The Gospel. I know I write a lot about the message of the gospel. (Obvious confession; I don’t really write a lot about anything anymore) There are two reasons I write on this subject often. Number one, because it is important. The gospel changes lives. Number two, I’m afraid that it is becoming hidden in church culture. There are so many things we have put on top of the gospel that many people could not even tell you how it is that they were saved. In fact, I think that many church people believe they need the gospel less and less as they live, as if the goal of the Christian life was to become more independent from God by doing less and less of "the bad stuff," and therefore, need the atonement even less. This could not be further from the truth. The closer we become to God the more we should realize how desperate we are for His grace.
I have shared this recently. But I will now repeat myself. The message of the gospel is this: God made us for fellowship with Him, but we cannot be in fellowship with Him because we are sinners and He is holy. Because of sin, we deserve death and hell. But because God loves us and wants that fellowship He made a way to restore it and for us to avoid the consequences of our sin. What is that way? Jesus, who is God, lived a sinless life, died for the sins of the world, and was resurrected. In order for the gift of salvation to be effective you must, by faith, believe in this sacrifice on your behalf and ask Jesus to take control of your life.
My piece of mind:
As far as I am concerned this message is the most important thing I can tell anyone. When you tell someone the story of the gospel you get different reactions. Some people will want to know immediately how they can accept this message. Others will put you off. They say, “I’ll deal with this later,” or “I’m not ready now.” I have heard this many ways. Once somebody who I had just witnessed to simply nodded and said, “Interesting.” Our conversation ended there.
I once had an opportunity to have this conversation with Ed...and I changed the subject. That’s right. I was given the opportunity to witness to him and I failed, miserably. I regret that, but it could have been so much worse. I would be typing this now with the knowledge that I failed to tell him the most important thing I know. The most important thing he would ever hear. I would have nothing but doubts and a guilty conscience. Nothing resembling peace of mind.
Fortunately that was not the last chance I ever got to have this conversation with Ed. Later I took advantage of the opportunity to tell him the Gospel. Not quite as pointed or succinctly as the paragraph above, but when our conversation was finished, I knew he understood. I asked him simply, “Has there ever been a time in your life when you asked Jesus to be your savior?” He nodded, and said yes. For me that conversation gives me great piece of mind. At that point I can stop worrying about judging his behavior to see if this is the way a Christian should act. (I really want to write a whole paragraph here about church discipline and judging others. Instead all you get is this parenthetical note.) I can simply take his word as truth. Because he told me yes, I can expect to see him again after the resurrection.
The same is true for almost all of my loved ones. If I have known you long enough and we are more than simple acquaintances, then I have probably heard your testimony. If you are reading this and that doesn’t describe you then tell me. I would love to hear it.