Dear Hope Family,
In the preface to his wonderful book, The Heart of Evangelism, Jerram Barrs reflects upon his burden to pen a book about commending the Gospel to others:
“One of the concerns that has spurred me on has been my observation that many Christians are afraid of sermons and seminars on the topic of evangelism. They are afraid because so often they have been made to feel guilty and inadequate about their involvement in making the Gospel known. All too frequently this has not been a Spirit-induced sense of guilt and inadequacy that has led consequently to a deeper trust in God, to a growing gratitude for His love, or to transformation in the patterns of one’s life. Rather, this has been a humanly induced sense of guilt and inadequacy that has been paralyzing and that has driven an even deeper wedge between Christians and unbelievers. I long to see believers set free from this feeling of frustration and failure. In place of this I pray that the Lord will help believers realize that evangelism should be an encouraging and even exciting subject to think about and to put into practice.”
I confess freely that I have been on the receiving end and, I am sad to say, the giving end of that feeling of frustration and failure, guilt and inadequacy, and I lament that the encouragement and excitement from commending the Gospels to others have been forfeited in the process.
What is so endearing and alluring about the book of Acts is the joy of the church as it rallies around the saving work of the Risen Lord Jesus. The regular rhythms of work and life, punctuated and empowered by corporate worship, give rise to genuine compassion for the world around them and an eagerness to see the Gospel triumph among unlikely folks in unlikely places.
It seems that the church in Antioch was not paralyzed by guilt and inadequacy nor frustration and failure; rather, the church relished the saving, reconciling work of Jesus in their midst and continually made room for more – not because of a command from the pulpit but from the overflow of their present-tense experience.
Chris Wright writes, “Mission means inviting all the peoples of the earth to hear the music of God’s future and dance to it today.”
Are your ears open to music of God’s glorious future that Jesus won for us through his finished work? Are you dancing? Is there room for more?
My prayer remains for myself and for our congregation to be more and more connected to the sold-out, committed heart of our Great Missionary God so that we will thrive in his gracious invitation to join in the party and make room for more!
Grace and peace,