My daughter has a friend. Her name is Angela. She and Angela are inseperable. At any given moment, of any given day, you can check with Grace about Angela and she’ll give you a very detailed update; i.e. what she’s wearing, where she’s hurting, what she’s doing, what food she likes, etc. The problem is that Angela is not real. We don’t really know where she came up with the name, but Angela is my daughter’s imaginary friend.
As I was talking to Grace last night about Angela, it occured to me that the bewilderment that I felt concerning her unseen friend, must be a lot like the bewilderment that non-believers feel when we talk to them about our faith in Christ.
This thought brings up two aspects of evangelism in my mind. First is the necessity to contextualize the gospel. The definition of contextualize is:
To place (a word or idea, for example) in a particular context
- The gospel of Christ is often confusing enough, to a non-believer, on its own. To what degree do many of us further muddy the waters by our own traditions, practices or behaviors? I like to say that if someone is offended in my church it should be the message of the gospel that offends them, or turns them away, not my behavior or practices. We must be diligent to make the gospel as understandable as possible, without sacrificing biblical integrity.
- Secondly, though, it reminded me of the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in evangelism. We are unable, on our own, to convince the world of the value of our message. Our message sounds like lunacy to most of those who are listening. Apart from the drawing of the Spirit, we have no hope.
22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.