November 2, 2011

HOW Overpowers WHAT

In my last post I talked about the danger of our own convictions becoming a "hill to die on" - becoming our "cause" - which in turn leads us to believing that everyone else should share our convictions. Romans 13 says there is danger in this. If you missed it, read that post first: When Our Conviction Becomes Our Cause

Yesterday I talked about my neighbor's posted front-door protest: WE DO NOT OBSERVE HALLOWEEN! Which was followed by an explanation of why you shouldn't either. Some things just rile us up, don't they. We go from sensing that something is not quite right for us (or for our family) to believing it is our mission in life to convince the whole world that our conviction is most certainly what God intended for the whole of humanity. And sadly, we don't know how we even arrive at that place. We just wind up there. On a corner with a poster. In a free speech area with a bullhorn. Posting a sign of protest to our front door. And as I said in my last post, our motive and intent is nowhere near being rooted or grounded in hate. But - whether we intended it or not - that's how it's coming across. And this is why we have got to begin realizing that if HOW overpowers WHAT, our message will never be heard.

99% of the time a politician gets publicly angry...and it shows...I stop listening.
When I discipline my children in anger, I wind up hurting them more than helping them.
When we post signs of protest, 99.9% of the time...NO ONE reads them!

And when we attempt to communicate the love of Christ to the world through judgment rather than love, our message is never heard. More important, HIS message is never heard! Remember that Jesus himself said, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:17) Trying to communicate a message of LOVE in a spirit of ANGER makes no sense. ZERO! Yet, people do it every day. We stop paying attention to HOW we're speaking, walking, communicating, acting, living...not realizing that the most important WHAT in the history of the world - the love and redemption of God through His Son, Jesus Christ - is being buried, covered, and smothered. Lost in translation.

And all of this hinges on another vital question: WHO are we trying to communicate with? If we're hoping our message reaches the eyes and ears of the lost, what is the message going to communicate to them? More on that later....)

Have you seen HOW overpower WHAT?
Have you been guilty of this in your own life? (I know I have.)
What steps can we take to walk and live in intentionality to share the love of God and the message and hope of Christ with others?


Wendel said...

Great post! I personally don't like participating in Halloween, and I wish that Christians wouldn't either. It was weird to me being from a place (Brazil) where we don't celebrate Halloween, then being converted, and moving here to the Bible Belt and to find that the church had so much involvement with the celebrations...

Having said that I understand the reasons of the celebration are not the same as the traditions, and although I don't participate, I don't think people are being condemned by what they approve, since much of what goes on is in fact the church opening the doors for a dialogue, much like what Paul did when he pointed out the 'unknown god' on Acts 17.

I understand that if I go to 'trunk or treat' it doesn't mean that the enemy is taking a hold of me (1 Co 8:6-9), for I still am a child of God... and although I don't participate and wish Christians would simply ignore (not by being hateful) the holiday, I think I can converse with people in love about it.

One thing that is undeniable is that this is a dark day, and like any other day, we must keep vigilant. That is a day when evil sacrifices, still to this day, happen the most.

Preston N said...

Brian - While I understand that how we present the gospel is important, I am not one who is all that concerned about what unbeleivers think of me - but more importantly what God thinks of me. I have participated in open air preaching and have many pastor friends who do it as their calling. Yes, typically we are labled as being "hateful", "judgmental" and unloving. However, how I define love and how sinners define love is very different. Love is not some sort of feeling or emotion. The Biblical definition of love is not how we make someone feel, but is a choice of seeking the highest good of God and others (Philippians 2:4, 1 Cor 13).

That being said the Gospel is clearly an offense to the ears of sinners and they hate God for the Truth he represents (Romans 1:30). So we know that when the gospel is preached sinners will be offended and yes, probably hate you for showing them their sinfulness and guilt. Yet, how does one preach against sin and still be loving? First, we know that the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is what brings mankind to salvation - not me making someone feel better about themselves or only show them "love". For if I give a person food or clothing for their body and yet fail to share with them the gospel that could free them from sin - have I really been all that loving? Whose glory have I actually sought to fulfill? Man or Gods?? Indeed my actions and lifestyle had better be in line with the gospel I am preaching, for if I am a hypocrite and yet preach the gospel then all I have done is brought shame and harm to God's message.

In order for a sinner to appreciate and understand God's love for them, they first must be brought to a place of spiritual brokeness. To ONLY say to the lost "Oh, God Loves you" is only to reaffirm in his own mind that his supreme selfishness is justifiable. A sinner might think to himself "Why wouldn't God Love me? I love myself more than anyone else, so why shouldn't God love ME too!" Therefore, before informing that God loves sinners (and He most assuredly does), it is vital that we present to them that they are an enemy of God's Kingdom and until they are broken by The Law and shown the depths of their selfishness, it is only then they can fully understand and appreciate the "Love of God". Until that happens, telling someone "God loves You" is just reaffirming in their own mind that they should be rightfully loved more than anyone else in the universe - including the God who created them!.

I guess my point is this, there are times when standing out on the street corner with a bullhorn is needed and people need to hear the message of Law/Grace preached - is this really any different than John the Baptist calling the hypocrites a "Den a Vipers" or Jesus preaching on Hell (Jesus mentioned Hell in more sermons than any where else in scripture)? As I like to say Jesus wasn't put on a cross because he was so "loving", but because people hated the Truth he preached and the way it made them feel. Granted sinners might not like our message and consider us to be judgemental and "unloving", but at the end of the day its not how I make someone "feel", but whether I truly loved them enough to tell them the Truth and how God has made a way to save them from their sins and enter into happy submission to Him. For that is real, true, genuine love.

Brian Mayfield said...

I hear you, but sometimes I feel like we're all missing the point. If the WHAT you are trying to communicate is completely negated b/c of HOW you communicate it, you've seriously missed the point.

Again, though - I hear you.

Brian Mayfield said...

I think I need to expound. I'm not in any fashion saying we shouldn't preach repentance. But I am saying that HOW we preach it matters. Hope that makes sense.

And, I don't think a sign on our front door gets us any closer. It steps us further away.

sazin said...
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Stony and Brit said...

I agree completely! Well said.