Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not a Ponzi scheme

A friend once suggested to me that as evangelicals, we sometimes make the Christian life sound like a Ponzi scheme. It is a warning that has stuck with me. We rightly emphasise the urgency and priority of evangelism and encourage all believers to be involved in it, but we can sometimes give the impression that the only reason for being a Christian is to introduce others to the scheme.

At least two points are worth making:

First, following Jesus means whole life discipleship. It means obeying everything that Jesus has commanded. The Christian life is the continuation of the Cultural Mandate. We are about seeking God’s Kingdom increasingly on earth as it is in heaven. We pray that through the preaching of the gospel in the power of the Spirit we might see the world transformed from one degree of glory to another. We are about faithful disciples, not just willing converts or momentary decisions. We seek first the Kingdom. We want to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbour as ourselves. The vision for the Christian life is far greater and more variegated than simply seeking to sign up others.  

Second, there are many motivations for evangelism, such as concern for the glory of God and obedience to Christ, but building my empire or seeing my church grow for my sake, are not good reasons. Evangelists always need to respect those with whom they share the gospel. Love for others is amongst those things that should compel us to speak. Of course, to tell someone of the rescue which Jesus offers is the most loving thing that we can do. We need to listen as well as speak and show a genuine care for those with whom we seek to share the Good News. Their flourishing is found in Christ. They are made in the image of God and loved by him. We must never treat them as if they are only merely potential proselytes and pew-fillers.

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