Archive for Evangelism

Fishers of Men: Part 2–Track Record

 

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee.  Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”

 Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me?  My time hasn’t come yet.”

 His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons.

 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did.  The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine.  He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

The headwaiter called the groom and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first.  They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely.  You kept the good wine until now.”  This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee.  He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.  (John 2:1-11 CEB)

 

Jesus hasn’t even had a chance to start teaching or building into these guys who are following Him.  His disciples have only just met Him and have literally not had time to do anything but get to this wedding, perhaps chatting a bit on the way.  They really didn’t have any way of knowing for sure at this point what they were getting into.

 

But then, Jesus reveals His glory to His new disciples by changing the water into wine.  From that point on, the fishermen were themselves hooked.

 

Now go back to the passage at the beginning of Part 1, where Simon (now called Peter) and Andrew drop their nets to follow Jesus full-time.  This event takes place A YEAR after the wedding at Cana.

 

So Jesus wasn’t just walking along the beach casting hypnotic spells on ignorant and gullible people.  First, they knew their scriptures well enough to know that a Messiah was coming.  Second, John the Baptist had pointed them directly to Him.  Third, they had seen Him perform a miracle firsthand.

 

So by this time, Jesus had an established track record with these guys.

 

Luke 5 goes into much more detail than Mark 1 about what Jesus was doing at the lake that day.  He wasn’t just walking along; He was teaching people at the water’s edge.  Then He gets into Simon’s boat, and has him take it out into the lake a bit, so He is better situated to teach the crowd.

 

Afterward, He has Simon go out deeper into the lake and let down his nets.  This doesn’t make sense to Simon, because they hadn’t caught anything all night.  Nevertheless, Jesus already has enough of a track record with Simon that he does it anyway.  This is what happens:

 

They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart.  Then they signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  The men came, and together they filled the two boats so full that they both began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this happen, he knelt down in front of Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t come near me!  I am a sinner.”  Peter and everyone with him were completely surprised at all the fish they had caught.  His partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were surprised too.

Jesus told Simon, “Don’t be afraid!  From now on you will bring in people instead of fish.”  The men pulled their boats up on the shore.  Then they left everything and went with Jesus.  (Luke 5:6-11 CEV)

 

They left everything.  Think about that for a minute.  Think of your job, your family, your house, your friends, your community—everything that makes your life what it is.  Is there anything, or anyone, that could make you leave all of that behind you?

 

If you said no, then consider these words of Jesus:

 

Those who love their father or mother more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers.  Those who love their son or daughter more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers.  Whoever is not willing to carry the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life.  Those who give up their lives for me will hold on to true life.  (Matthew 10:37-39 NCV)

 

These fishermen were ready to become man-fishers.  They were expectant, they were vigilant, and they were patient.  And because of this, we are still talking about them 2,000 years later.

 

So what about us?  Are we ready?  Are we willing to drop it all and go fishing?  Does Jesus have enough of a track record with us that we would follow Him wherever He would have us go?

 

If your answer is yes, then it’s time to go fish.

 

Fishers of Men: Part 1–Follow Me

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  (Mark 1:16-18 ESV)

 

This is one of a plethora of examples in the Bible where context is everything.  Just reading that passage by itself might make you say, “WHAT?  How gullible are these guys?  Was Jesus some kind of Pied Piper or something?”

 

Because it sounds like He was just going for a walk, saw these two guys, called them, and they came.  Obviously, there’s more to it than that, but you have to know where to look.  So here’s some background.

 

Simon and Andrew are brothers from Bethsaida, which literally means House of Fish.  They are working in a commercial fishing business in Capernaum, on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, where Andrew lives with Simon and his wife.

 

Andrew is also a disciple, or follower, of a radical new preacher known as John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah, the Anointed One of God who would redeem Israel.

 

One day Jesus shows up where John is baptizing.  John immediately recognizes Him, and points Him out as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Naturally, word gets out about this event.

 

So the next day, Andrew is there along with another disciple by the name of John, who recorded the events of that day in the Gospel that bears his name:

 

The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples.  When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look!  The Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus.

 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?”

They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?”

 He replied, “Come and see.”  So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day.  (John 1:35-39a CEB)

 

After spending the day with Jesus, Andrew immediately goes and gets Simon, convinced that he and John had found the Messiah.  So how were they convinced in a single day?  I’m sure it had a lot to do with what Jesus said to them, which the Bible didn’t record, but there is another reason.

 

Andrew and John recognized Jesus as the Messiah because they were EXPECTING the Messiah.

 

Indeed all Jews in that day were, but most of them didn’t know what they were looking for.  Many were hoping for a military leader to throw off the Roman occupation of Judea.  These folks missed it completely when Jesus was in their midst.  Indeed, many of them were among those who eventually had Jesus executed.

 

But John the Baptist knew that the Kingdom of God was another matter entirely.  And he had done his job in preparing the way for those who had ears to hear his message, Andrew and John among them.

 

(Come back for the conclusion–Track Record!)

 

Us and Them: Part 4–Love

 

You can love your country, but since a country is an abstract concept that really only exists as lines drawn on a map, it cannot love you back.  Your country can have a strong military, but that can’t keep you safe from what happens inside our borders.  Your elected officials can promise you everything, but they themselves are not in a position to truly provide you with anything.

 

Bottom line—if you put your hope in politics, you will always be disappointed.  However, there is a way not to be.

 

For the first 33 years of my life, my needs were never truly met.  But for the last nine, they have been.  Since surrendering my life to Jesus Christ, I have experienced love:

 

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  (John 15:13 NIV)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  (1 John 4:18 NASB)

 

The first time I felt truly safe was when I learned and internalized these words:

 

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.  A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.  (Psalm 91:5-7 KJV)

Even in my moments of weakness, when I let world events and political rhetoric get the better of me, I still hold fast to this truth:

 

In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.  The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  (Psalm 118:5-6 NIV)

 

And for the first time in my life, I finally have a hope and a future (anybody who has ever bought a wall plaque at Family Christian knows where I am going with this):

 

Yes, I know that this is one of the most overused, out-of-context Bible quotes of this age.  Yes, I know that it was a specific message given through the prophet Jeremiah for specific people in a specific situation at a specific time (the Jewish exiles in Babylon in the 6th century BC).

 

But see, that’s just it.  The Jewish exiles of 2,600 years ago had the same needs that we do today.  They needed to know that God still loved them, that He would preserve and protect them, even though they were captives in Babylon for 70 years, and that they would have a hope and a future (in their case, that they would return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem).

 

Different situation, different time, same needs.  Because they were “us,” just as we all were created to be “us.”

 

This is why I emphasize “common ground” so much when writing about the concept of being a Truthseeker.  These needs are common to all.

 

I have found that all of these needs are met in Jesus Christ, and in Christ alone.  I am able to love, because He loved me first, before I even acknowledged Him (1 John 4:19).  I know that under His protection, no weapon formed by man shall prosper against me (Isaiah 54:17).

 

But most of all, I have a hope and a future.  I know (because I have seen) that my Lord has gone to prepare a place for me (John 14:2), and that a day will come when my cup will overflow with streams of living water, coming from God’s throne (Revelation 22:1)—the Day when my future will become my eternal present.

 

God wants this for all of “us.”  Christianity is not supposed to be an “us” vs. “them” proposition.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 to go and make disciples of all nations.  He didn’t say, “Go into the world, but don’t baptize or teach ‘them.’

 

(For a great example of how God really feels about “them,” come back for Part 5–Nineveh.)

 

Empty Glass: Part 6–Water of Life

 

For the past five posts, I’ve beaten this glass/pitcher/pouring metaphor to death (not to mention the trees and busted faces).  So what am I REALLY talking about here?

 

The world is like a desert, and life makes you thirsty.  We all need refreshment on a regular basis. 

 

What we really need, instead of a pitcher, is something more like a faucet, or perhaps a spring.  Something that can give us water whenever our glass runs empty so that we don’t have to wander in the desert, drinking out of whatever pitcher we find.

 

Fortunately, we do have one of those available to us.  As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well:

 Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:13-14 NIV) 

 

What is this water of life?  Later, when Jesus was alone with His disciples at the Last Supper, He explained in more detail:

 

If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  But you know Him, for he lives with you and is in you.  (John 14:15-17 NIV)

 

I have written all of this to tell you that, by the grace of God, I have found this spring of living water, the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to be with us, and in us, until Jesus returns.

 

But the only way that this was possible was for me to take off my lid.  It wasn’t easy.  I have found that the longer the lid stays on, the harder it is to pry off.

 

I was only seven years old when I put the lid on my empty glass.  When I had questioned God’s omnipotence in Sunday school, I was condemned for doubting.

 

So the lid went on.  And on it stayed, through high school, college, and into marriage and fatherhood. 

 

In my mid-20’s, I met some people with pitchers full of living water, and I had a taste, but quickly slapped the lid back on, because by then, it was my habit. 

 

It wasn’t until the age of 33 that I finally had to admit my glass was empty.  My arrogance had destroyed my marriage and shattered my family. 

 

Alone in a church, on my knees, I finally threw my lid away once and for all, and asked God for His living water, the Holy Spirit.  And my life has never been the same. 

 

God has given me a brand new mission.  It is the same one he gives everyone who believes that Jesus was His Son, that he died on the cross as payment for our sins of pride and arrogance and was raised to life again by the power of the very same Holy Spirit that He sends to be a wellspring of life inside of every believer.

 

We are called to educate the ignorant, love the arrogant, and tolerate the stupid (leaving room for God’s wrath, of course).  We have been given the Holy Spirit, the water of life, not to keep Him to ourselves, but to pour out for the whole world.  It is not by accident that Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41 NIV)

 

 

If you’ve stayed with me this far, your lid is definitely off.  Not only that, but you’ve got yourself a brand new pitcher.  Why not try giving it a pour?

 

 

But watch out for those lids!

           

Intolerance: Part 1–Listen!

 

Christianity has recently seen a rising number of attacks, from within the church as well as without, regarding its “intolerance.”

So is the Christian church intolerant? And if so, is that really such a bad thing?

We can better understand intolerance by first defining “tolerance” itself. One implication of tolerance might be to listen patiently to another’s ideas that differ from our own, while postponing criticism or judgment.

A reasonable definition of intolerance, then, would be the opposite—disagreeing without listening, judging without understanding, rejecting another’s view out of hand, or to sum it up in a single word—condemning.

So is that what the Christian church is? Condemning? Am I actually implying that it might be a positive thing for the church to behave that way toward people outside of it? Not in the least!

Of course, Christians, and everyone else, should be tolerant of other people. We are aware that many do not believe what we believe, or know what we know about Jesus and the Bible. The most effective method of reaching someone with different beliefs or opinions is, as Stephen Covey put it, to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Free Press, 1989.)

In other words, we must LISTEN, not just wait for our turn to talk. Our primary motive should never be to tell people why they are wrong, but rather to listen to their story. This active, empathic listening demonstrates tolerance.

However, there is a second part to this principle. We seek first to understand, but THEN we also seek to be understood. That means telling our side of the story. If we have treated someone with tolerance by actively listening, should we not expect the same courtesy in return?

Yet this is exactly the same courtesy that is NOT being returned to the church by antitheists and renegade theologians alike. They impetuously lump us into the political category of “the Christian Radical Right” and call us “demagogues” or much worse, because we defend our “interpretation of the Bible” as truth.

In other words, either they have judged the Bible without reading it, or if they have read it, they have dismissed it out of hand without trying to understand it or those who revere it, regard it as authoritative and follow its teachings.

In other words, by definition, they are being intolerant. Because Christians do not share their opinions or beliefs, we are seen by them as morons at best and likely dangerous.

The irony is that they never look at themselves with the same lens in which they view the world. True tolerance requires humility. It is impossible to listen tolerantly to another’s point of view without first humbly acknowledging the merit of the need of the other to be heard.

To indict someone of being intolerant by exhibiting the very intolerance you deplore is hypocrisy.

 

(Did I lose anybody? If not, please come back for Part 2–Good and Evil)

Division: Part 3–Seeing is Believing

 

 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. . .”  (Hebrews 10:24-25a NIV)

 

The Yellow Pages of my metropolitan area list 345 churches.  They are split into 60 different denominations.  Some of these denominations have sub-denominations.

 

This makes for some interesting reading.  We have four different kinds of Lutherans and seven different flavors of Baptist.  We have an “Independent” Catholic Church (the word “Catholic” comes from the Greek cath holos, meaning “according to the whole” or “unified”).  There are six Churches of Christ, five Churches of God, and seven Churches of God IN Christ.  We have six interdenominational churches, 23 non-denominational churches and one church of “various denominations.”  And we have 49 churches that just call themselves “Christian.”

 

 So which one is the right one?

 

 If I were to poll people from all 345 churches, I would bet that the majority would say, “OURS is the right one.”  Many wouldn’t, but I imagine a lot would. 

 

 

Of course, many of these 345 churches work together and support each other.  But some don’t.  When churches are in opposition to each other, it is usually because of a doctrinal difference.  It may be something as petty as the style of worship music, or it may be something much more significant, such as the authority of scripture.

 

The causes, however, as not as important as the fact that division exists within the church.  This is significant because this division is noticeable by those OUTSIDE the church.

 

If our job is to make disciples of all nations, how good of a job do you suppose we’re doing if we’re going to war with each other?  Why would anyone want to be part of a movement that is divided against itself?

 

Believe it or not, many folks outside the church are seeking the Truth the same as we are.  Some even accept Jesus on a logical level, but don’t want to be part of a home church because of all the drama and division. 

 

Even the simple fact that there are 345 churches to choose from in my area is overwhelming in its own right.  It would take 6 ½ years to visit them all.  Can you imagine going to the store for one item and having 345 different brands of it from which to choose.  I’d stay home too.

 

Now of course, as Christians, we know that the Holy Spirit will lead us to where we are supposed to be.  However, non-Christians DON’T know that. 

 

We have to remember that agnostics are creatures of logic and reason.  They have to see to believe.  Because they have not received the Holy Spirit, they can not follow His leading.  The only thing they have to go on is what they see.

 

And that’s us.  And our division.  Logic dictates that Truth and division can not co-exist.  Truth can not be divided on itself just as Christ can not be divided.  So if a person comes seeking Truth from a logical standpoint, they are also seeking unity.  Where they do not find unity, they assume they have not found Truth.

 

So they leave.  They do not become disciples.

 

And we have failed in our primary mission.

 

(Next, Part 4–The god We Want)

 

Division: Part 1–The Great Commission

 

 

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20a NIV)

 

 

This is the last thing that Jesus said before leaving earth.  This commandment is known as the Great Commission.

This commandment gives Christians a simple blueprint of what the universal Church is supposed to be doing until Jesus returns.

I don’t see anything in those instructions about division, do you?

I see “go and make disciples,” that is “followers.”

 

I see “all nations,” which means that following Christ is a greater priority than differences in cultural background.

 

I see “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is reminding us that it is the Holy Trinity that we are following, not a captivating church leader.

 

I also see “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” “Everything” means EVERYTHING, not just the parts that make you comfortable, fit your political agenda or don’t require you to give something up. This commandment leaves no room for doctrinal division, as the Church has clearly been commanded to simply teach obedience to that which Jesus has already taught.

 

With this commandment, Jesus did away with all of the legalistic rules that the Pharisees had appended to God’s law to maintain power and control over the Jews.

Furthermore, with the divine authority that only He could have as the risen Son of God, he brought the world the only teachings that we would ever need to effectively follow Him back to God the Father, by the power and leading of the promised Holy Spirit.

 

In other words, the Great Commission formally put an end to religion.

 

Except that religion didn’t go away like it was supposed to.

 

(What happened?  Come back for Part 2–Denominations)

 

 

Saved–Part 3: Comfortable

 

As we covered in Part 2, to a person in the light, light is preferable, and to one in the dark, darkness is preferable. This is simply because that wherever you find yourself, if that state of existence continues, you will get comfortable with it, and that will be what you perceive as “normal.”  The longer your “normal” exists, be it darkness or light, the more you can’t imagine life being any other way.

A person sitting in the dark is not necessarily happy about it, but they are comfortable with their surroundings. So they justify their darkness, rather than turning on the light, which would involve getting out of the chair and flipping the switch—a very simple action, but it does involve SOME effort.

Likewise, a person outside the church may not feel as though they are missing anything that Christianity can provide. A person walking in the light of Christ knows what the others are missing, but what we as Christians need to remember is that sharing the gospel with somebody against their will is like flipping on a 100-watt bulb in a dark room. The light of Truth can burn your brain just like a sudden flip of a light switch can burn your eyes.

That is why so many people reject the gospel when they first hear it. It really has nothing to do with “logic and reason;” it is simply too much of a shock to the system for them to absorb.

We forget that for someone in the dark, there is actual pain involved with coming into the light for the first time. The pain goes away, of course, and is replaced by a clearer understanding, but you don’t instinctively know that at the time you’re experiencing the pain.

Meanwhile, it should also be noted that those in the light actually have the same problem with being comfortable. Christians can get so used to the light, that we forget what it was like in the darkness, where we all began.

We can also get comfortable where we are and forget that we were called into the light for a purpose—to flip on the light switch for other people sitting in the dark. This also involves effort and change—a change of attitude toward the people in the dark.

I think Paul said it best in his letter to Titus:

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:3-5a)

That sounds like my life in a nutshell. No one saved me by arguing me into heaven. I did not save myself by simply deciding to “be good.” Jesus Christ chose to save me, because that is who He is, and that is what He does.

If I were to walk into a dark room now, I might stub my toe, but I could sit with an inhabitant of the darkness and talk to them about my own previously dark room. I could share that the only way I was able to light up my room was by first acknowledging that my room was dark.

And who knows? By God’s mercy and grace, they might ask me to help them find the light switch. At the very least, they will know there’s a switch that needs flipping.

Saved–Part 2: Light and Darkness

 

 

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning

There’s no one here to save.

(Sara Bareilles  “King of Anything” 2010)

      A Christian would hear this song and perhaps be reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:18, which reads, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

However, it is far too easy for us as Christians to look down on “those who are perishing” as though they are lost children groping about in the darkness. Being “in the light,” we know that to be a spiritual reality, but we forget that a person that has spent their entire life in darkness is accustomed to the dark.

In this way, spiritual darkness is very like physical darkness. If you walk from a brightly lit room into a dark one, you will stumble, because you can’t see anything. However, if you wake up in the middle of night in the same dark room, you don’t have much trouble navigating it, because your eyes are accustomed to the darkness.

But if someone then turns on the light, you are, for a short time, just as blinded by the light as someone coming in from outside would be blinded by the darkness. Either way, going from light to dark or dark to light, you are probably going to whack your shin on the coffee table.

A person who has spent time in the dark room doesn’t have a problem walking through it. They are accustomed to the darkness, and it suits them. However, that person in the dark room is missing out on so many things that could be seen in the light.

After all, once you get past the initial shock of the light coming on and the brief pain of the rhodopsin breaking down in your eyeballs, then you can see just fine. Much better in fact, than you could even when accustomed to the dark.

This is why we have light switches in our houses—we have always instinctively known that light is better than darkness, so we have developed technology that allows us to have light whenever we desire at the flip of a switch.

This raises a troubling question, however.

If it is so instinctive that we would be attracted to and prefer physical light over physical darkness, then why is it that we are so resistant to come out of spiritual darkness into the light?

And even more troubling–why are those who are in the light, or “saved,” so hesitant to go into other dark rooms and flip on the switch?

(To find out, come back for Part 3: Comfortable)

 

Saved–Part 1: Saved From What?

About 15 years ago, my family and I were practicing Catholics. I had been raised in the Catholic Church, but had fallen away at an early age. My wife had converted after our marriage. Her conversion, added to the fact that we were now raising two sons in the church, had renewed my interest in the church and in my own spiritual voyage.

Having grown up either being Catholic or trying hard not to be, I was quite ignorant of other denominations. I was aware that they existed, but their histories, beliefs and the differences between them had no more meaning to me than the differences between channels on television. To me, there was simply Catholic and Not Catholic.

One afternoon, our neighbors, who attended an Assembly of God church, invited us next door to a “small group fellowship.” I had no idea what this meant, exactly. I saw a yard full of people I didn’t know and their noisy children. I knew they were people that attended the same church, about which I knew nothing.

These folks looked normal enough, but a key difference soon became apparent when a father yelled at his ornery children to “stop behaving like the Canaanites.”

It occurred to me that I recognized “Canaanite” as a Bible word, probably a geographical term, but I didn’t really know who the Canaanites were or why they were significant. Furthermore, I had no connection whatsoever in my mind regarding how the Canaanites behaved and what parallels there might have been to their behavior and that of this man’s children.

In short, I was aware in that moment that I was woefully ignorant in regard to Bible knowledge, and despite the friendly welcome I received from these folks, I felt intimidated—like they were on some totally different spiritual plane than me.

About this time, three of the ladies came over to us and asked me if we had a home church, knowing that we were not from theirs. I told them that we were attending the local Catholic church. They looked at each other with what seemed to be delight, and one of them innocuously exclaimed, “Oh, our pastor used to be Catholic too until he got saved!”

It was clear from her tone that she meant no offense whatsoever from this remark. Nevertheless, I remember clearly 15 years later that the first thought that went through my mind was, “Saved? From what?”

What my Catholic ears heard was that their pastor used to be just like me, but then he was saved from the error, the foolishness, the madness that is Catholicism. Needless to say, I found that offensive.

We stayed for the rest of the meeting, and I tried, and I think succeeded, to be gracious to the group for their hospitality, just as they were gracious about my biblical ignorance.

Even so, I just could not get past that word, “saved.”

Looking back on that afternoon 15 years later, now as a Baptist, I am much more conscious of how we, as evangelical Christians, can unwittingly come across to others with our churchy words.

It is so easy for us to fall in to the trap of seeing ourselves as “saved” and everyone else as “lost.” This mindset may be Biblically factual and theologically sound, but it fails to acknowledge the reality that “lost” people don’t know they’re lost. Therefore, to hear from someone they do not even know that they need to be “saved” is offensive to them.

 

(To be continued in Part 2: Light and Darkness)