Acts 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
There is a problem with going through the painful process of humiliation, repentance, dying to your own needs/wants/dreams/plans and putting your trust and your entire life into the scarred hands of Jesus Christ. Once you get there, it changes your heart, your mind, your outlook, purpose and presuppositions. And through time, He changes how you feel about Himself, yourself, and all of the selves around you. You’re not so bitter about past hurts. You’re not so envious or angry or manipulative with people around you. And of course, the weight of sin is *poof* gone and atoned for so there is with the lightness of forgiveness a burden for the loved ones around you to know the same. And so you want to tell them, too, about Jesus. And therein lies the problem.
Mark 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
I wonder why repentance would need to be pleaded for at all. It is, by its very nature, completely offensive. It means that there is something to repent from. Much easier to ignore the spotlight of the law as a standard and instead just focus on the goodies God provides: love, peace, joy… It seems mean to use the law to convict of sin, to share or talk about or post the ten commandments. Isn’t that why they are being removed from public places all around the nation? The law exposes and no one likes to feel naked. Much easier to focus on the “positive” to encourage a can-do moralistic repentance built on behavior modification rather than a gospel circumcision of the heart that cuts and hurts.
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
A person whose heart is soft towards God will be thankful that the goodness of God revealed the law because if it weren’t for the law, knowledge of how sinful they really are would never been brought out. A person who is comfortable with how “good” they are will hate the law, because knowledge of how sinful they really are has been brought out. It is offensive. It will humble and bring repentance towards God, or it will offend and be fodder for pride (see Rom 2:4-5)
Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
The compassion of Jesus can be offensive, too. It assumes pity, a desire to teach the unlearned. Have you ever felt sorry for those who “don’t need your pity”? It doesn’t matter that the teacher is compassionate; what matters is the heart of the student. I wonder about all the people on the mountainside that heard Jesus teaching. Were they annoyed? Where were they when He was on the cross? Where would I have been? I already know…His teachings would have been foolishness to me. Without His spirit, I am dead in sin.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
It is the love of God that has made a history pregnant with suffering Christians and martyrs. Why? Could they not just cloister themselves and say nothing? Deny Him in public but praise Him in private? Carry themselves in a way that is more agreeable to the current culture? But the compassion of Jesus moves us.
Mark 7:25 For a certain woman…heard of him…
How would anyone like this woman hear of him if testimonies were not given? If lips were shut? The gospel is offensive because it brings Christ into the public arena, where religion is acceptable but Jesus is not. And among the small band of seekers (Acts 2:12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?)
there will always be mobs of mockers (Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine). It is nothing new. But how loving is it to not share the gospel?
Romans 10:13-14 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Sharing the gospel is more than just quietly living your life in a way that causes others to *notice* your holy living, because even if your character and conduct are impeccable (and is anyone’s?!), the choices and decisions you make to live that way (any way that happens to be) before God will cause some to feel judged if those are not their choices and decisions in life, as if God put the stamp of approval on your life and not on theirs. I’m not saying that is true; but that is how some think, especially if you’ve confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. If your morals oppose theirs, and you claim to know God, look to be insulted, because yes, they DO want to impose their beliefs on you (ironic, isn’t it?). Even Peter followed Jesus from afar at one point, so yes, the temptation is easy to become a secret Christian, a private one. No one likes to have enemies but Jesus Himself promised them. Is He is a liar? No, He IS the Truth and yet He Himself had enemies and we are not above our Master. Yes, we need to live righteously. But we also need to speak Truth. And speaking Truth paints the bullseye.
Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
Some say it is not loving to share the gospel, to tell others, in essence, that we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and that there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Ps 14:3) However, Jesus Himself shared God love AND used the law to convict the conscience (read John 4:13-18). Is He not loving? God IS love (1 John 4:8). In fact He is so loving: Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
For a true Christian, however, all of this makes for big hearty “amen!” Something along the lines of, “Yes, I’m a sinner! Yes, I’m a liar, blasphemer, adulterer and murderer at heart! Yes, and I’m even worse than you think I am! You name it! ( Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? ) BUT PRAISE THE LORD FOR HIS SALVATION!!!” True Christians will never deny their own filth and always point to the One who has cleaned them up! The good news of salvation is always preceded by the bad news of how bad we really, really were and are, because we compare ourselves to an infinite, eternal, holy, just, and righteous God.
Most Christians I know are tender and humble; they have a fear of the Lord and humility towards Him, His Word, and the church body as a whole. There is a right understanding of how lowly, wicked, sinful they are–in fact, it is grievous to them, but they rejoice loudly for amazing grace. They are grateful for God’s redemptive work, Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. They are growing in grace. None are perfect, but there is growth in forgiveness, sweetness, compassion for the lost. They are honestly hard to offend; Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Unfortunately, today’s view of Christianity removes half the gospel message and focuses on private religion, prosperity, and a pampering spirituality with a God suited to one’s own desires. A lot of Americans consider themselves Christian but don’t know the gospel. It is less, “thus sayeth the Lord” and more “this is what I think God is like.” Classic Christianity too often is seen as negative, judgmental, hard, and unkind…and is hated for its message. Again, this is nothing new. Jesus was HATED, too. John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. Christians sharing Truth have been hated, oppressed and killed for over two thousand years and it is still ongoing.
It’s important that when sharing about becoming a Christian, your listener knows that it will not make their life *whole* and the point is not to fill the *hole* in their heart. The point is forgiveness of sin and a right relationship with God! Becoming a Christian may even make their life torturous (just read the new testament; how “prosperous” were His own disciples in life???). In our country, the cry is for “tolerance” but God’s Word calls for casting down imaginations (2 Cor 10:15). It is less focus on positive thinking, works and ritual and more on faith alone in Jesus alone and His amazing grace in it all.
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
So what to do? Deny Jesus and live a safe life? Keep our faith private and by our silence agree with the misrepresentations and sin, knowing that the lives of those we love are but a vapor but God’s wrath is real and eternity is well, eternal? I sometimes think I fear God too much to keep my mouth shut. But I know the truth is that I don’t fear Him enough to open it more.
It hurts to be hated, to have others say unkind things and half truths, to be fodder for backbiting and gossip. But if you share Christ rightly, expect it.
Know that faith alone in Jesus alone is what will keep your feet grounded, and reading the Bible will sharpen the red flags of discernment when “new Christian” ideas and books are written and published and are wildly popular (as if first generation Christians knew nothing and we are sooo enlightened now). And yes, sometimes you’ll be hated just for critiquing those ideas, too.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
But don’t grow discouraged and weary, sisters. If you’ve repented and put your trust in Jesus, remember that you are under grace, not under the law! God will prompt you to speak and share, and of course there is joy and trembling in it because no one signs up to be abused for it. But we do it because we love Jesus, and yes, we love the ones we share Him with enough to tempt the backlash that may happen. No one “lovingly” ignores warning others about the wrath to come. And I will tell you that even ONE person who repents and trusts Jesus is a tremendous joy! Remember that YOU are not the offense; it is Jesus. It is His message. And it is His work, not yours.
Galatians 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Philippians 1:20-21 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
2 Corinthians 11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting…
Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…
Press on, and share the good news!
Soli Deo gloria,