Evangelism and the 5th Commandment and this Mission of God!
Devotional Thought of the Day
13 “You must not murder. Exodus 20:13 (NLT)
21 “You have heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial.’ 22 But now I tell you: if you are angry with your brother you will be brought to trial, if you call your brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ you will be brought before the Council, and if you call your brother a worthless fool you will be in danger of going to the fire of hell. Matthew 5:21-22 (TEV)
27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV)
189 In the second place, this commandment is violated not only when a person actually does evil, but also when he fails to do good to his neighbor, or, though he has the opportunity, fails to prevent, protect, and save him from suffering bodily harm or injury.
190 If you send a person away naked when you could clothe him, you have let him freeze to death. If you see anyone suffer hunger and do not feed him, you have let him starve. Likewise, if you see anyone condemned4 to death or in similar peril and do not save him although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. It will do you no good to plead that you did not contribute to his death by word or deed, for you have withheld your love from him and robbed him of the service by which his life might have been saved. (1)
What I am going to say may be slightly controversial, but do me a favor and read the entire post before dismissing it.
Here is the controversial statement.
For a Christian to not share their faith with those around them is sin. Specifically, it is a violation of what is referred to as the 5th commandment (Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans) or for some the 4th commandment (Evangelicals and Reformed). The one listed above, “you must not murder”
let me say it again, to nor share the love of God, revealed in Christ Jesus is simply sin.
When you actively or passively refuse to do so, it is disobedience. Specifically, you are particpating in the murder of your neighbor. Just like in Ezekiel, where the watchman was responsible for the death of the citizens he didn’t warn about the attack of an army, just like in Luthr’s example, you fail to prevent, protect and save him from suffering harm, except the stakes are much higher.
A competent Lutheran theologian might challenge me here, saying that I am using the law to motivate behavior, trying to use gilt and shame to get people to share their faith.
I could be, but I am not. You see, Romans explains well that our old nature tries to get us to live in disobedience. To do the things we should not, or to not do (as in this case) the things we should. Luther would talk of drowning that old nature in baptism, of reminding it that its dead. And that is exactly what we need to do with the excuses that we have, for not sharing our faith. We need to realize that our lack of love for our neighbor, for his eternal nature, stems not from the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, but from the old nature, the old Adam.
Our negative reaction to evangelism, is simply our old nature refusing to acknowledged it died in baptism.
If that is true, then there must be a way the life made alive in Christ evangelizes.
And that is where Paul’s words to the Colossian Church comes into play. The reason why he works with all that is in him, to present every man mature in Christ, by sharing with them the gospel.
Because of the glory of God.
Because of this amazing mystery of Christ living in us, a mystery revealed to us that is so incredible, so life changing, that we desire all to have it. We have the ability to be conduits of a life changing the emssage, the very message that changed our lives.
As we are transformed in Christ, it is natural to become involved in the ministry of reconciling us to Christ, it is truly the nature of loving our neighbor, of doing what is best for them, of reflecting the nature of God that is seen in the words cHesed and agape. And that very love should shape and deliver that message.
Not because we have to, but because of the love God transforms us to be, even as He is.
Lord have mercy, and may the mystery of our lives in you show us how to love all You would desire to know see You!
(1) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 390–391). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.