Monday, May 2, 2011

Do Something

It was the walking dictionary himself, Charles Spurgeon, who said so masterfully, “Do something, do something, do something.” He was expressly talking about soul winning, motivating his people to put their talents into use to take the gospel of life to a dying world.

His command to do something was purposefully ambiguous. He didn’t say, do open-air preaching, he didn’t say, do friendship evangelism, he didn’t say, do go pass out gospel tracts, he didn’t say, do help at the homeless shelter, he didn’t say, do work in the orphanage, he didn’t say, do be an overseas missionary, he did say, do something. Spurgeon was, and is, a man who motivated men to work towards the goal of soul winning, and one of his greatest gifts was recognizing that his gifting was not the only gift given, his ministry was not the only ministry, and his method(s) of evangelism were not the only methods of evangelism.

Unfortunately, in Christendom today we have seen this recognition of a myriad of gifts forgotten, and many of the most popular ministers today are forcing their ministries and pet-projects on their followers, even when their followers are not best suited for these tasks. I won’t name names, not for the sake of sparing feelings, but because I don’t want you, dear reader, to think that there are only a handful of ministers making this mistake. If you read today’s most popular books you will be told that you must be a missionary to unreached people groups, you must be fighting the sex-slave-trade, you must be digging wells in third-world nations, you must be adopting half a dozen orphans, you must be giving all of your possessions to the poor, you must be going on short-term missions trips to provide disaster relief…you must look precisely like the one you’re reading, or you’re doing it wrong.

After reading a recent book I was wondering, am I really being as useful as I can be in my current role in the midst of a slipping Bible Belt? Is my time best spent working amongst students who are, in majority, utterly consumed with the world and so inoculated to Jesus Christ through powerless free-will messages that most will die in their sins having never realized that there was enmity between them and God? Should I listen to one or more of these Pharisaical commands to cross land and sea to fight great evils in other lands? The Georgia community has the gospel, am I really being effective toward the fact that, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14)?

These questions were heavy on my mind this past week, but by the grace of God, the gospel is self-correcting, for Paul prayed for his friend Philemon, “I pray that in the sharing of your faith you become effective for every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ” (Philemon 6). On Sunday we went into our Samaria (Acts 1:8), which is a town about twelve miles away, Marietta, and shared the gospel with probably about fifty people. The age range was 11 (a former attendee of our church) to probably 65, and not a single one of the people I talked to personally showed any understanding of the gospel of grace, though most professed at least some understanding of the Bible.

My young friend and brother, Grant, shared the gospel with three students roughly his age, one of whom had been to church earlier in the day, another who was a Buddhist. These three all professed their own goodness, utterly clueless to the fact that Christ came to seek and save the lost. After Grant did a fantastic job sharing the gospel, the Buddhist was still adamant that she would be reincarnated. I took a moment to show her that every religion says if you’re good, something good will happen to you when you die, but I pointed out that as a self-admitted liar, thief, blasphemer, and murderer at heart, if reincarnation were true she would not be coming back as anything good, nor would anyone, for we have all sinned and the thoughts and intents of our hearts are only evil continually. These students went away thinking; realizing that the King himself stepped out of Heaven to rescue them from their assured condemnation, for it is appointed once for a person to die, and then the judgment. We could go to Tibet to find Buddhists, but we've found them in our own backyard speaking our own language.

A little while later we approached a group of late-teens and began to take them through the good person test to show them their standing before God. A young lady, probably 17 or 18, came up right at the end of the test, and wanted to know what we were talking about. I gave her a condensed version of the good-person test to bring her to the point in the conversation that we were at. Long before I could get to the gospel, these girls attempted to justify themselves as better than me (and most likely they are better than me), asking questions of my past, and then they turned inward willing to give up some sins, but not others. The young lady who walked up late took control of the conversation, saying, “I’m willing to repent of lying and stealing, but what about lesbianism, I’m not going to repent of girls.” I’m not sure that she was sincere, or just looking to shock us, but it’s pretty hard to shock me (I work with students weekly) and I instead gave her the test in Matthew 5:27-28, asking her if she had ever looked with lust on someone she was not married to. Her haughty countenance disappeared. Another girl asked, “So, we’re hopeless?

One of my favorite verses recently for evangelism is Ephesians 2:12, it exactly says that we are hopeless. I explained to them that we are indeed without hope, nothing we can do can rectify the danger we’ve put ourselves in through rebelling against God, by blaspheming his name by operating as images of God yet showing all of creation that God must be a liar and adulter, because the images of God are liars and adulterers. This thought sunk in and they were more than ready for the gospel at this point. I asked what God had done in love so that they can be forgiven? A young lady who had previously professed to be a drug-user, spouted out, “He gave his Son.” She had probably heard that before, she may have even said it before, but you could tell by the look on her face that she was understanding it for the first time. I gave a synopsis of Christ’s life and death, and resurrection, and two of them looked surprised when they heard that Jesus was God in the flesh. It was truly a joy to tell these contrite young people that while we were without hope or God in the world, he willingly gave himself up to die on a cross in their place to reconcile them to God. What happened next was not just a “thank you for talking to us,” it was a series of serious questions from them asking how to partake in the forgiveness, righteousness, and reconciliation offered by Jesus Christ. They all promised to go home and read their Bibles, one girl said she had tried, but couldn’t even get through Genesis; I encouraged them to read the Gospel of John first to understand who Christ is, why he came, and why it is important for them. Had we instead gone to Haiti, we would have missed the opportunity to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to this group of pierced, tattooed, drug-using, sexually active high-schoolers.

On Sunday we talked to professing Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists, Hedonists, youngsters, seniors, men, women, boys, girls, civilians, marines, drug-users, homosexuals, gluttons, drunkards, and even a girl who very likely was a prostitute. There is no lack of ministry in this world, I encourage you to find a place to serve, to do something.

Beloved, I have a gift for talking to students, I have the ability to easily approach them, strike up a conversation, and present the gospel in terms they understand. I will not stand here and tell you that if you are not ministering to this lost and dying generation that you are wrong, I will not tell you that if you have gone to Haiti or Tibet or anywhere and shared the gospel that you are wrong, or if your ministry is elsewhere, I will not tell you are wrong. The only way I will tell you that you are wrong is if you are doing nothing to preach this true gospel of forgiveness of sins.

Beloved, I will tell you to do something. Find a place where your gifting fits, something you enjoy, something you are good at, and preach the gospel. For the end will indeed come when this gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, but it also will not come until every saint of Christ comes to repentance. These future saints live in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth, both literally and figuratively in how those relate to your location. So be preaching the gospel in your capacity, with your gifts, demonstrating the love of a Saviour who loved you first, not forcing your ministry on others, but finding needs and filling them, proclaiming the excellencies of Christ to a lost and dying world, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of God.

Do Something, Do Something, Do Something. – Charles Spurgeon

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