Sunday, August 19, 2007

How Evangelism Now 2?

In my previous blog I purposefully left out one utterly pivotal dimension; namely, the corporate witness of the local church. We tend to think individually about evangelism; us telling others one to one the gospel, or one person preaching to a crowd etc. This is all good and has its place; but, the corporate witness of the body of the Christ is an indispensable element of evangelism in any age and context.

We are the body of Christ and collectively, as we express our humanity and faith with the Spirit flowing through our veins (metaphorically), Christ witnesses through us to the world. None of us is Christ, but collectively we are to be Christ to the world. Some will be more evangelistic than others. But as a unit we demonstrate Christ to the world.

Jesus said this when he called for his followers to love one another and declared, 'by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another' (Jn 13:35). Our unity, love, compassion, care for each other, provision for the needy, the fruit of the Spirit expressed etc, is a living witness to the love of Christ. Our good works on behalf of others in need, our concern to be God's healing and providing hands, will demonstrate to the world of the love of God. Our unified witness, as we worship God in unity, with passion, in spirit and truth, is a declaration that God is true and exists. Our non-judgementalism, our friendship with sinners and our living out of the gospel, declares to the world that there is a God and calls people to believe.

To me one of our greatest problems is our lack of unity, judgementalism, denominationalism, doctrinal disagreements, election-arrogance, ethical self-righteousness and moralising are a real problem. Black tshirt parades, obsessions with matters sexual, failure to live out the social justice and transformation sides of the gospel; all combine to give mixed messages to the world.

We need to be dedicated with all our beings to live out the injunctions of Christ in local churches which are community transforming, merciful, gracious, accepting and unified around the love of Christ. A church like this can really impact a community. Our intrusions into the media need to be very thoughtful and very constructive and non-judgemenal. We need to remove any notions of church-state alliance and Christendom and work with love, mercy, justice and grace.

Perhaps this is our biggest challenge. The Roman Empire was taken over by the love, mercy and unified witness of Christians who had no alliance with the state, but got on with the task of imitation Christ in good works, unity and truth. It is time for us to do the same.

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