The Gospel Is Not a Sales Pitch
On my recent trip to the Middle East I was once asked, "Which religion are you?" I answered, "I don't have a religion." The inquirer was shocked. His is a very religious nation. "Why don't you have a religion?" he asked me. "Oh, it's because of my relationship with Jesus Christ."
This is what I've begun doing wherever I go in the world. Whenever anyone sincerely asks, I gently and respectfully answer with this truth. The principle here is that Christians should be more than believers. We should be followers. Our privilege is to say with Paul, "For to me to live is Christ." For the New Testament Christians, Christianity was not a sales pitch. They had no carefully worked-out gimmick that would manipulate an on-the-spot decision to "get somebody saved." For them, witnessing was a spontaneous enthusiasm for the most important Person who ever lived.
The first century Christians were followers of Jesus. They were in love with Him. They were filled with His Spirit. Because they were close to Him, His fruit was evident in their lives. Peter tells us that as we bear fruit by doing good to others, it will attract their attention and they will want to know why we're living the way we are (1 Pet. 3:14-15). It is then that we can speak up and tell them -- "always with the utmost courtesy" (The Message). When this happens, God has placed the opportunity in our laps to share the Good News of the Gospel gently and respectfully.
This message will be the gist of my breakout session at the upcoming 9 Marks conference on our campus in September. Christianity is not theology. It's a Person. Our sound theology is important, vitally important, but it doesn't save us. Jesus Christ saves. The goal of our instruction is love. Oswald Chambers said, "This abandon to the love of Christ is the one thing that bears fruit in the life, and it will always leave the impression of the holiness and the power of God, never of our personal holiness" (Our Utmost, Feb. 4). Our fruit, not out theological acumen, is the evidence of our journey to the heart of God.
I urge us all, this very day, to be kingdom subjects. Live generously and graciously toward others, just as God lives toward us. Let our enemies bring out the best in us, not the worst. For it is our vibrant love for one another that is a living testimony to the world that we are Christ's disciples.
August 18, 2010
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.