By Janet S. Wolff
Going into this new year, with two more states approving “civil unions,” we can see the challenge of reaching this mission field called home. What an exciting opportunity presented to us! People need the message of the gospel now more than ever!
It would be easy to get caught up in staging protests and shaking our fists, but our mission to reach the lost and how to do that hasn’t changed. Throughout His ministry, as He walked among us, Jesus demonstrated how we are to spread the gospel:
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23; 9:35).
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’” (John 7:37–38).
The world teaches that we should embrace our differences (including sexual immoralities), yet so many who have embraced these diversities are left wondering why the divide between people and relationships looks more and more like the Grand Canyon. People continue to search for unity and harmony through various spiritualities and world religions and try to include Christ in the equation—because, in their minds, all roads lead to heaven. As Christians, our public debates on doctrinal differences are often perceived as football players’ tackling their own teams. To hear many people tell it, this is the very reason they have sought sanctuary in the rapidly growing religions touting “peace and harmony” rather than a personal relationship with Christ. Generally, the message on the streets regarding Christianity is that we are divided amongst ourselves and people would rather avoid the bickering and politics found in a traditional church.
The apostle Paul could have been walking the streets of a city like Seattle when he wrote to the Corinthians: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Paul tells us to focus not on differences but on unity.
In the face of sins that people seem to wear with pride on their sleeves and pop culture’s teaching that these things are “right,” it’s easy to become defensive of our position of truth. But as missionaries and ambassadors of Christ in our neighborhoods, it’s important to remember to be at peace with all people (Romans 12:18). Personally, I find an approach of respect and open dialogue—“Why do you believe what you believe? Tell me more about it. I’m interested in you!”—opens more doors to share my faith.
So many people have been beaten up by the “religious” focus on the “big, bad, bully God,” who’s going to strike them down where they stand, that they don’t even want to grace the doorway of a church. They are convinced we are haters and don’t care about them. It’s not enough to preach at people. If we aren’t willing to get to know people on a personal level and love them the same way Jesus had dinner with tax collectors and spoke to a Samaritan woman at the well (the societal heathen rejects of His time), then we can’t expect anyone will want to actually hear the message of hope that will save their lives for eternity. The good news of Jesus is who He is and what He did—and what He continues to do today.
Throughout history, nations have been transformed by the simplicity of the love of Christ and the basic message of the gospel. Let us remain unified among ourselves in Christ and focused on the many hearts looking to us for answers to the questions they don’t even know how to ask: Yes, Jesus loves you! Yes, Jesus came to set you free from sin and death! Yes, Jesus came to give you life and that more abundantly! You and I needed answers to all of these questions before we were introduced to Christ.
Do not let the circumstances of the world bring you down, but let your mission be renewed with even greater strength and vigor to preach Christ’s message of love and forgiveness in a lost world.
Janet S. Wolff is a Berean School of the Bible student from Lakewood, Washington. For more information about Berean School of the Bible, visit www.globaluniversity.edu/berean