Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thoughts on Why I am the Worst Evangelical Ever

Preface: As I have mentioned in a previous post, I find myself in a part of the Church that is often referred to as Charismatic, Neo-Pentecostal or Third Wave. Basically these are all terms for the same thing. Typically we are marked as Evangelicals who harp on an experience known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which is often accompanied by some sort of manifested spiritual gift, such as tongues or the prophetic, that a lot of the Church purposes to believe, but do not frequently experience. This is kind of important in understanding the context and language of this post.

This is basically my new car. Kind of fun.
So, I found myself this week in an interesting situation. I met a dude while buying a car (oh yeah…I own a Mazda now, not a Nissan truck). A couple of days later, out of nowhere I got a prophetic word for the dude. (See…context and language!) Since I once lived with the guy I bought the car from, I told him, but felt specifically I should ask if this other dude was a Christian. Turns out he was an agnostic. This put the whole scenario on hold for some reason…probably so God could do some business with me.
So, I stopped, and was thinking, “Maybe this is just a prayer scenario.” But then my friend said I should just share with him and he would explain to him what was going on. For some reason this seemed like a good idea. However, in the midst of things, I felt like God was saying, “Don’t share the Gospel with him. Just give him the encouragement.”

Now. I would think at this point we have about three divergent points of view:
View #1 – You lost me at prophetic. What the hell are you on about?

View #2 – Why would you not share the Gospel? You’re a heretic, and did you notice you just used the word “hell” in view #1? You should only use that word when sharing the Gospel.
View #3 – Totally makes sense. He is after all in Mississippi and heard the Gospel 147-million times…this week.

Now, being past the situation, I am pointedly in camp #3, but in the midst of the situation I was closer to camp #2. You see, I grew up a good Southern Baptist. Sharing the Gospel, preaching on street corners, doing missions…these are the things you do. It is part and parcel to being a good Evangelical. So, I wrestled with it.
Now, my inner-Evangelical is still freaking out, and here is (I think) why: what I did seems mighty close to universalism. It seems close to saying, this dude is okay without reminding him that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and none come to the Father except through him (John 14:6). That was troublesome to me. But, what I felt was this—I was actually learning to trust in the sovereignty of God. I was learning to say that God is God and I am not. I was reminded of this Scripture: What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. – 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.

But ultimately, since I feel, for me personally this is a season related to learning obedience, I made it a point to not share the Gospel, and even told the dude, “First off…I am not trying to convert you.” I went on to share the word. He was surprised, but encouraged. And I left it at that…and am leaving it at that unless something else changes.

What I felt in this situation, is I was called to a specific purpose. I needed to trust that God knows the way of this dude’s heart…and I don’t. I don’t know why God wanted me to speak this particular word. I don’t know why God didn’t want me to share the Gospel. I do know that in this situation it was what felt like obedience. But it also created a tension that I have to deal with. And I would say we all have to deal with.
It reminds of this: evangelism is good…with certain caveats. I don’t think I will ever be a street corner preacher. I would suck at that. And if I try to function in that, without the blessing of God, I will probably do more harm than good. I believe God has called me to use my gifts and that applies to evangelism. The problem is, until this encounter I had never seen the intersection of something like the prophetic with evangelism. They were two distinct entities. I think this is the result of one too many spiritual gifts assessments. I “know” what my gifts are. However I have let that knowledge keep me from learning how they are a part of all things faith.

I'd be the worst street corner preacher ever. And that billboard is perhaps
the greatest photobomb in the existence of the interwebs.

Just because I am a guitar-picking, hospitable prophet (tongue in cheek…please know I would never call myself a prophet!!!) doesn’t mean I’m not called to evangelize. I think we all know this. But I lived in such a way that I removed myself from that part of faith.
But more than gifts, this is about our common faith (since, if you are reading this, you probably have some sort of Christian faith background, if not, you are welcome for fresh ammunition in your arguments that we neo-pentecostals are crazy). As an evangelical one thing I am supposedly about is evangelism. However, I have not been the most active evangelizer. I make known my faith, but I’m not a preacher. And I think because of problems with techniques, I have shied away from this entire side of our faith. Meaning, I’m obviously not an evangelist, because I hate cold-call, street corner Bible-thumping.

But this encounter reminded me of something. God has uniquely crafted each of us, and called each of us to the manifold Kingdom of God. My responsibility is to learn obedience to my part. This time I was called to something akin to evangelism, but I was only called to a specific part. I view it is planting a seed. I will probably never reap the harvest with this guy, but I trust that the harvest will be reaped. I trust God’s sovereign plan, however that looks, will be accomplished in his life. And that is all I need to do. I don’t need to weigh myself down with excess baggage and guilt for not laying out Romans road, or whatever your congregation uses.
And I think that is how I understand that I have not resigned myself to universalism. What I have done is determined, “God is sovereign. I can trust that my response to Him is enough. And I will be responsive to Him throughout the process with this guy or any other person.” Even if that makes me look like I’m a terrible Evangelical.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely put! I'm with you on this for sure. I suck at evangelism unless there's an actual opportunity for it. I'm not a fan of the Jesus Juke: