Episode 1. It’s Not a Shouting Match
Anyone who believes in Jesus – is also meant to be an Ambassador of Christ. Now – that’s not an easy role. Sometimes being Ambassador requires some tough talk. Other times it’s about diplomacy – the question is, knowing when to call a spade a spade, and when to be more … circumspect. One of […]
Anyone who believes in Jesus – is also meant to be an Ambassador of Christ. Now – that’s not an easy role. Sometimes being Ambassador requires some tough talk. Other times it’s about diplomacy – the question is, knowing when to call a spade a spade, and when to be more … circumspect.
One of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever seen as a Christian and I’ve seen it a few times, is some guy standing up on a soap box in the mall or on the street corner or, as I shared a few weeks ago at Saturday morning markets, screaming out the so called good news of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes they’re preaching about hell and damnation and other times there’s something esoteric or apparently esoteric to the casual passer by. And sometimes I have absolutely no idea what they’re ranting on about.
Now I’m a Christian and so I’ll sometimes stop and see if I can understand where they’re coming from and truly I can’t figure out what it is most of the time. But they stand there on their soap box with a Bible in their hands and surrounded by some pretty tacky placards normally screaming the Gospel at people.
Now do I think that God can use that? Well sure, He seems to use the foolishness that I preach sometimes in people’s lives so why not the guy on the soap box on the street corner?
But do I think that this is the most affective way of dealing with the issue of sharing the good news? Is it the best way to communicate the incredible love of God and the grace of Jesus Christ? The riches available to those who put their faith in Him. Is it the best way to do that?
No, not by a long shot. Not by a very long shot. And yet it’s easy, so easy for us to imagine that telling people about Jesus, it’s kind of like that. That it’s about two equal and opposite ideologies, God’s and the world’s, butting heads and locking horns.
Last week and again this week on the program we’re having a chat about living our lives out as ambassadors of Christ, His emissaries if you will. If I believe in Jesus, if you believe in Jesus then one of the things that we have to do with our lives, one of the main things is to communicate His love, carry His love out into a lost and hurting world.
That’s what the Apostle Paul said in writing to his dear friends at the Church in Corinth way back in the 1st century. In the letter 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 20. He writes:
So we are ambassadors of Christ since God is making His appeal through us.
And I guess much of what we chatted about last week had to do with us being ambassadors. Looking and being and walking and talking like Jesus because if we’re going to be His ambassadors, well we better just do that. We better look like Him and walk like Him and talk like Him and be like Jesus.
Each one in our own way of course but unless we do, how can we possibly claim to be His ambassador? How can God make His appeal to this world to be reconciled with Him through someone who looks nothing like Him, who behaves nothing like Him, who talks nothing like Him?
Now that kind of presents us with something of a dilemma, does for me anyhow. Because what I see is that sometimes Jesus stood up and berated people. Not too often granted but sometimes he did. He called the religious leaders of the day hypocrites, a brood of vipers and a whole bunch of other things.
In fact it was that attitude towards them that got Him crucified. And yet other times He dealt with people with such tender love and compassion it almost moves you to tears when you read about those times. Like the woman caught in adultery, you can read about her story in Johns Gospel chapter 8. I mean He pretty much put himself between her, this sinner, and the angry mob who wanted to stone her to death. Now go figure that out.
So how do you reconcile these two things? How do you or I know if we want to be like Jesus, how to speak into this world the way that He did? When do we speak with tender love and when do we stand up to be counted and call a spade a spade no matter who it’s going to offend?
I guess that’s kind of where we are going on the program this week. Looking at how, as ambassadors of Christ, we communicate the message, Gods message, to a world that sometimes doesn’t really want to hear.
How do we speak into this world like Jesus did? How do we connect His message of love and forgiveness and a new and abundant life to the needs, often desperate needs in the lives of the people around us? Do we call a spade a spade and get right into people’s faces like Jesus did sometimes?
Or do we speak with compassion and love? And if it’s both of those at different times, how do I know, how do you know when to use one and when to use the other?
Now these questions, as you can imagine, are questions that I’ve mulled over just a bit because most of what I do with my life is I try to communicate Gods love with you and with countless other people who need to hear about His love. That’s my shtick. That’s my gig in life. And whatever your gifts and your abilities are, if you believe in Jesus in one shape or form it’s your gig too in your own particular way.
Well, as I look at how Jesus communicated, He only got upset, really upset with people on a handful of occasions. In other words, it was the exception rather than the rule. He didn’t see His role as God in the flesh as being one half of a shouting match most of the time and so far as I can see He reserved His anger for His own people, Gods own people. For the people who should have known better. For the people who said they believed in God, for the religious leaders. Have a read of Matthew chapter 23, I’ll just read a couple of verses, verses 12 and onwards:
All who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted. But woe to you Scribes and Pharisee’s, you hypocrites. For you lock people out of the Kingdom of heaven. You do not go in yourselves and when others are going in you stop them.
Woe to you, you scribes and Pharisee’s, you hypocrites for you cross a sea and land to make a single convert and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
Or when He went to the temple, John chapter 2, verse 15:
Making a whip of cords He drove all of them out of the temple. Both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and over turned their tables.
The only time He really got stuck in was when He encountered hypocrisy amongst religious people. When they actually held themselves to be clean on the outside but they were filthy on the inside. When they oppressed the people. When the powerful stood over the weak. When the rich exploited the poor. When the judges were dishonest to the detriment of the ordinary folk.
You know when Christians, at least here in Australia where I live, sometimes stand up to politicians and publicly speak out against injustices and wrongs and decisions being made and laws being passed that just aren’t in the interest of common people like you and me.
The most frequent response you get from politicians is that Christians don’t belong in politics. Keep your nose out of politics. I couldn’t disagree more. When we see wrongs and injustices and can I say especially when we see those things in the Church, especially when we see the hypocrisy amongst God’s own people.
I believe it’s time to stand up and to say so. This isn’t a clash of ideologies. It’s not a slanging match or a shouting match. It’s not some irrelevant person standing on a soap box on the street corner ’cause you know something, the truth, the truth rings out clear as a bell.
Sure people with vested interests won’t like it. Sure there’ll be a cost but Gods heart, Gods heart is for justice for the poor and the oppressed.