A wordplay if you will. When I proposed to my wife, I told her for the first time that I loved her and then got down on one knee and asked her to be my wife. Of the definitions on Webster.com I liked the fourth one which says: to come together and interlock (as of machinery parts) : be or become in gear.
Although it is the definition as applied to machinery, i think it works well with how we should view engaging in marriage and engaging our culture. So we move from the warm and fuzzies to the cold hard machine. But in life you need to have both. You need to have cold, hard objectivity and soft, pliant subjectivity.
Enough of trying to string out the analogy. I am reading F. Schaeffer’s book, The God Who is There, and I am loving it – especially the fourth part of speaking into the culture.
The first piece that must be present in engaging the culture is love for fellowmen. Without it, evangelism becomes legalistic strivings to win souls and convert the reprobate. We must come into a deep reality that the man and woman we are talking with is one with us insofar that we have the same father, Adam, and are in need of the Savior.
I fear that pragmatism has bled into our church and been the defining factor of a successful congregation or pastor. That is, on the list of the 50 most influential pastors, each had a huge number of attendees. Don’t get me wrong, there are about five on the list that I admire and pray that I can make an impact on the church as they have.
However, I cannot lose sight of the fact that I may never be known to anyone except the few hundred people I love on by sharing the Gospel and few others that I spend pouring my life into so that they might also do the same. The most influential man was Jesus. He spent his three-year ministry influencing twelve men – twelve! Granted, he is God and the Holy Spirit moved in unprecedented ways to initiate the spreading of the Good News. However, we are also endued with the Holy Spirit and should seek to model the life of Christ. Pouring our life into men’s lives so as to deeply affect them.
Has our church been too focused on sharing the Gospel in droves rather than driving the truth home to the heart and hope of humans’ lives. Yes, I can go to a coffee shop right now and begin talking to five folks about Jesus and how they need to give their lives to Christ. All of which accept Christ as their Lord. But I had better get their telephone numbers and call them up the next day to begin reading through the Scriptures. I better not merely chalk up one on the belt and pat myself on the back.
This is the force of pragmatism. It seems like we are making an impact, yet we are simply getting verbal ascent. I can’t tell you how many men I have heard give their lives to Jesus only to call them and they don’t want to talk or meet or anything. I wish I had loved them before sharing the Gospel with them. Too many times I have only looked at my evangelism as a challenge and good thing to do as a Christian.
May we as a people begin loving people, first. And then talking to them about their need. May we not volley the mortars of truth against their walls of contempt and deluge in order to say we have fought the battle and won the debate and lose a soul.