Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Not Ashamed

I’ve been thinking about a trend in Christendom to minimize the gospel (You are a sinner. Jesus died and rose again to pay the price for your sin. Call on Jesus as Savior and you will be saved and become a new creation.) I’ve recently noticed authors, pastors and singers who are in the business of proclaiming the gospel, focusing almost exclusively on people’s problems. These leaders are very good at describing the futility and heartache that people feel. They seek to empathize with unbelievers. I’ve experienced this desire myself. I want to diminish the line that separates me from those who don’t know Christ by saying, “I know your life is hard; my life is hard, too!”

In one way, this is a helpful trend. As Christians we are choosing to put aside the mask of perfection to show the world that we are fallen humans who struggle—kind of an "anti-hypocritical movement." We’re laying it out there, boldly proclaiming, “We’re no better than the next guy. We sweat. We bleed.” The thing that concerns me about this trend is that by empathizing with unbelievers, we fail to tell them that there is a solution. We tell them they have a problem, but we don’t offer them the cure! We don’t tell them that God can give them power to overcome struggles, it is possible to say no to sin and walking with Christ offers freedom from earthly addictions.

Why do we hesitate to tell people about this powerful antidote? We don’t want to associate ourselves with an “easy” answer. We understand that people’s issues are complex and many. We don’t want to give them the Christian Band-Aid for their bleeding gash. That seems incredibly insensitive. So we attempt to sneak in the cure. “I know life stinks, and oh, by the way, Jesus can help.” But here's an important distinction: For believers, life doesn’t stink! Sure we have trials. But we also have the ability to give thanks in all circumstances. We have hope. We have peace. We have joy. These things speak loudly of a Savior who redeems! People are absolutely desperate for redemption and regeneration, and yet we hide those things as if we are ashamed of them. Instead we relate to the unregenerate state. But when we do that, what do we offer the hurting?

I am reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” We need not be ashamed of a powerful God who can fix people’s problems. In fact, we should be proclaiming this cure! People don’t need religion, they need a powerful Savior who can change their lives. And we have that.


At 10:11 AM, Blogger Danielle said...

That's an excellent distinction to make, Suzanne!

At 1:02 PM, Blogger anne said...

thanks for sharing this!!!

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

Suzanne, great post. I've noticed this trend also.

From what I've seen, it seems there's a hesitancy to be bold and unashamed in preaching the pure, undefiled gospel for fear of offense. There seems to be this belief that if the truth isn't softened to ward off possible offense than non-Christians will not step into the doors of churches, buy Christian books, or attend concerts. So instead of relying on the Word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and salvation to unbelievers through the teaching of the gospel, it's watered down in an effort to fill chairs on Sunday mornings. Hence, in my opinion, the popularity of "seeker friendly" churches.

The funny thing is Jesus didn't worry about offending people.

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Mark Wilson said...

Hi Suzanne

I always look forward to visiting your blog in the hopes that you have written something. Your writings are inspiring!

I whole heartedly agree with you that we should not only say that we sympathize, but we should also say that Jesus *is* Lord and *has* overcome and He can in that person's life too.

I'd go further and say that we should then HELP that person to get out of where they are, or at least share what we have been blessed with by God, in order to be a blessing to that person.

Without wanting to be negative, I also agree with ASHLEIGH that the church is too seeker sensitive and it is also sometimes too insular.

Part of the problem wof why we Christians do not share the message that Jesus can make others better... is because He has not yet helped us! Sad but true. So the trick is to FIRST get His help for ourselves, and THEN give that help away to others.

I have been a Christian all my life and I remained broken until about 3-4 years ago. NOW that He has fixed me (because I committed to Him) I now find that it is only NOW that I can spread the good message to others.

Bless you,

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Kelsey said...

This is good Suz.

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Dr. Ransom said...

Oddly enough, just the other day, Boundless -- a webzine I believe you may have heard of, Suzanne -- published not only another excellent Matt Kaufman column about absurd evangelism techniques, but somehow got ahold of one of my favorites, Kirk Cameron, who also wrote of "evangelism" sessions that are so forcibly nonoffensive as to remove all semblance of the truths of Hell, guilt and repentance!

Just admit your "honest mistakes," this evangelist said ...

But Scripture is clear: the "Good News" can only follow, and only make sense to, its hearers, after they hear of the worst news in the history of the world, which comes in two horrible parts:

1) They've offended a righteous God and are going to Hell.
2) There's nothing they can do about it.

But thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

At 5:28 AM, Blogger 劉德華Andy said...

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