GIFT WRAPPING THE GOSPEL – James 4:4
Please hear my heart on this “concern” – I am not naive to the fact that the mere suggestion of this could be controversial and fly in the face of modern ministry methodology. Nevertheless, this was not something I solicited from the Lord in my time with him as I was driving to work recently; other than the fact that I have been, for many months now, trying to listen in prayer, more than talk.
This is also NOT a pointing of fingers…. but a reflection upon a question…
The questions I heard as we talked were:
“What are we “appealing to” in our efforts to preach the Gospel? Carnality & flesh, or Spirit & Truth?”
“In our attempts to engage the hearer, what method of engagement are we using, and what aspect of their being are we engaging? Spirit or flesh?”
Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I love a great production, as much or more than the next guy; however, I can’t deny the question God asked “me” and I can’t deny my personal conviction that if we use carnality to engage, entreat, invite, draw, etc – then we will have to use these same methods to “retain”. If these methods are carnal or fleshly, then is this God’s way? Certainly He has given us gifts of creativity!! However, I guess my concern, based on the questions the Lord asked me is, are we using our creative gifts to appeal to spirit or flesh. What appetite are we satisfying? Certainly the feeding of the 5,000 (4,000) was creative and fed the physical appetite (however it was unquestionably a spiritually miraculous revealing of Himself)… however, likewise, “eat my flesh and drink my blood” was creative too, and, wrapped in mystery, it rocked His followers to the core, and “many left and followed Him no more.”
In our creative & sincere efforts to draw them in and engage them, what methodology have we embraced & promoted? I have been convicted, for a few years now, that much of my attempts to “engage” and many of my “methods” sound and look a lot like James 4:4:
“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Are we making ourselves enemies of God in our attempts to engage, appeal to & otherwise attract people for ministry? Does God need, use or condone such actions? Does the end justify the means?
God is asking me, and those who would be willing to dialog and explore, with an open mind: “What direction are we going to take in ministry? What methodology will we embrace as Godly? What aspect of those whom we have been given audience with, will we make effort to engage (or appeal to)? Are we following Jesus’ model in ministry, or “improvising”? And if improvising – is our improvisation of Him, or of the flesh?
I know these are hard and even dangerous questions – but I find “hard” and “dangerous” exciting, when it is inspired of the Lord!! I have found tremendous growth in my relationship with the Lord, by challenging and questioning everything to insure it lines up with Christ. (As C.S.Lewis wrote, “He is not safe, but He is good.”)
I welcome your dialogue on these questions and thoughts. Let’s be Christlike in this. If you aren’t willing to engage a Christian Dialogue (two-way conversation, with multiple points of view, and a willingness to glean insight from Christ in others), without being harsh or critical of others, then please refrain from participation.
For The Kingdom,