Archive for the tag “Gospel”

I’m done. I’m moving on.

I’ve heard it just once too often: “Keep the Main Thing the main thing.” And there’s the equally inane cliche: “Preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words.”

I don’t know whether to chalk it up to ignorance or confusion or just simple-minded parroting of what our mentors told us. Who decided there was a great gulf fixed between Word and Deed? Where did the idea come from that we can (or must) prioritize either Proclamation or Demonstration?

I know I’m harder on the “proclamation” crowd. Nobody really disagrees about demonstrating the love of God in the lives of those around us. Jesus ranked that mandate right up there with “Love the Lord your God.”

Where we disagree is whether demonstration is essential to our mission of making disciples. One large segment of the church community organizes around the principle that making disciples is simply “getting people saved” and then teaching them how to get other people saved. One segment of the mission community focuses almost all its energy on multiplying that strategy exponentially.

“Proclaimers” zero in on the part of the Gospel where Paul explains how the atoning death of the risen Christ reconciles us to God and enables us to receive the gift of eternal life. They agree it’s important to help others in physical distress but, to them, that’s not “Gospel.”

I’ve wasted a lot of time over the years, trying to convince those brothers and sisters they are preaching a fragmentary Gospel. Without success, as far as I can tell. An utter failure. A complete waste of time. So I’m done. I’m moving on.

The straw that broke my proverbial camel’s back this past week was when the Spirit posed a couple of questions to me:

— How does Word happen apart from Deed?
— Isn’t proclamation itself an action, a demonstration of God’s love?

I’m grateful for those whose passion is proclamation. We all should be so wholeheartedly committed to spreading the Word. But let’s quit pretending proclamation stands apart from (even above) demonstration.

Word requires Deed. You can’t proclaim without doing something, engaging in an action. And the act of proclamation is a demonstration of the love God has placed in our hearts for those broken, confused souls who have no idea what God has done to open the door so they can enter into new life in his kingdom.

Proclamation is one demonstration among many. Love your neighbor the way you love yourself. Love them enough to help them in their distress. Love them enough to speak grace and truth into their lives.

But it’s all Gospel. You can’t separate Word from Deed, any more than you could divide Christ’s deity from his humanity.

I’ve had it with the endless discussion about the proper balance of proclamation and demonstration. I’m done with arguments about Word versus Deed. I’m especially done with people who see demonstration as nothing more than a means to an end, a subversion that gains access and creates opportunities for the Main Thing. That denies the integrity of the Gospel.

When someone brings me an answer to the two questions above, I’ll be willing to reopen the discussion. But until you do, please stop pretending that proclamation has a higher priority than working for justice and righteousness.

Christ is not divided. There is only one Kingdom. The God who first loved us has told us from the beginning to love our neighbors the way we love ourselves. That’s how we make disciples: by pouring the love of Christ into their circumstances and showing them God has a better plan for our lives and communities than what we are experiencing.

Of course that requires words. Demonstrate your love for them, and for Christ, by explaining what they are seeing in your relationship.

I like what Terry Smith (cbmin.org) says: It’s not word. It’s not deed. It’s wordeed.

A hope-filled future for our cities

In the latest episode of our God’s Revolution podcast, we’re talking with Glenn Barth, president and CEO of Good Cities, about how we can help cities experience a future filled with hope.

Good Cities is a community development initiative that advances the gospel of the Kingdom by working with local leaders toward the common good of the city. The mission of Good Cities is to discover, support, and serve vibrant city movements by building processes that create good cities.

Our good friend Reggie McNeal works alongside Glenn in helping community leaders discover the power and collective impact of collaboration. Using the Good City tools, church leaders can help their communities experience God’s common grace in the redemptive features a city has to offer, which in turn leads to the opportunity for people to experience God’s salvation and a future filled with hope.

To listen to the episode, click here.

Russell Moore: When Jesus’ priorities become our priorities

When you work for justice, and when you do it with the Gospel at the center, you’re following in the way of Christ, Russell Moore told college students at the NAE‘s Christian Student Leadership Conference this past week.

Click image to watch the video

Click image to watch the video

When Jesus’ priorities to become our priorities, believers “start caring about what it takes to cause the people around us to flourish, what it means for them to live in ways in which they are blessed rather than cursed,” Moore said.

That’s the reason why we care about the unborn when the rest of the world would want to dehumanize them by speaking of them simply as zygotes and embryos and fetuses and unplanned pregnancies. That’s the reason why we care about people who are suffering with AIDS and with other diseases. That’s why we care about women who are being trafficked. That’s why we care about immigrant communities that are suffering. That’s why we care about people who are in prison.

Some Christians worry that focusing on justice will detract from either the Gospel or mission of Jesus, and that’s a legitimate concern “because there are all sorts of people who would rather think about the common good than the Gospel,” Moore said. But “the mission of Jesus is the extension of the life of Jesus,” he said.

Jesus preaches the kingdom of God, never backs down from preaching the Gospel with Himself as the center of it. And as He does that, Jesus listens to the cries of those who are vulnerable around Him in order to work toward well-being and the common good. He preaches. He heals. He casts out demons. He feeds. He listens. He touches. He loves.

When we respond to the cries of the unborn, when we welcome the orphan, when we hold the diseased, when we in our own churches first signify to the rest of the world that no one is without value, no one is without dignity, no one is without worth, all we’re doing is by the power of the Holy Spirit being conformed into the image of Jesus so that His priorities are our priorities, His mission is our mission, and His future is our future.

Read the full text of this excellent article by Tom Strode by clicking here.

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