Prophet or Evangelist: The Modern Christian Dilemna
Devotional Thought for All Saints Day:
12 As, therefore, God’s picked representatives of the new humanity, purified and beloved of God himself, be merciful in action, kindly in heart, humble in mind. Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you. And, above everything else, be truly loving, for love is the golden chain of all the virtues. Colossians 3:12 (Phillips NT)
From this we can understand what the Church really is by nature: the breaking down of the barrier between I and you, the union of men among themselves in eternal love by a fundamental transcendence of self to its very depths. It is the assimilation of humanity into the way of life of the trinitarian God.
Do you know what the Devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: “Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.” But when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battle-field, then he shudders and shakes for fear.
In the last few days, I have seen a lot of self-appointed prophets out there, both in social media and in real life. And far too few gospel oriented people, people whose mission is to share the good news that is found in the revelation of Christ’s love. And yet, those who are acting like prophets often think that what they are doing is evangelism.
A little defining of terms may help here.
A prophet has a basic task, to represent God when the rules of a covenant are trashed when the relationship God is just simply ignored, or abused, or denied. His or her role is to call people back into that relationship, to honor the way that relationship has been defined. And the prophet does this, primarily by reminding people of the terms of the covenant, the promised punishment or curses the people choose, when they choose to violate the covenant.
Read the Old Testament minor prophets, these guys did their job well, as did John the Baptist. This is where we get the idea that anything goes when sharing the faith – that we can threaten and even use violence to make people repent That it is all out war with the person we are trying to convert.
I’ve seen a lot of this in recent days, in regards to people condemning each other for being on opposite sides of the Reformation, for celebrating Halloween, and a couple of videos going around that are bashing atheists as illogical and unreasonable.
Basically Hellfire and brimstone with a touch of arrogance and pride. “We’re right (not God) and therefore if you don’t join us, God’s promises are not yours.” These are the people Luther said were falling right into the devil’s snare, and making his job all too easily.
Except that most prophets weren’t addressing people outside of a relationship with God, they were addressing people that were God’s already and were walking away from the relationship. Is it possible that this is the reason that so many are de-churched? Rather than being encouraged by other believers, all they see is people trashed? And they are encouraged to do it that way as well if they are real Christians?
Luther says that Satan runs when the Word has its way instead. Similarly, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the Church is going to break down the walls dividing us, uniting men in the love of God, as God brings us into His presence, into His glory. It happens as we are assumed into the way of life of the Trinity.
This is what we are sent to bring the message of, the reason we have hope. Yes, we point out the fact that this world is broken, but the hope is found, not just in repenting, but in trusting, in depending on this work of God. We become His, we are quickened (brought ot life ) and realize we are dwelling in His presence, and someday, we will be dwelling with Him, face to face.
This is the message the world needs to hear from us. It is this message of Christ’s death, uniting us to God, that will break the power of sin in our lives.
This is what it means to be sent with the gospel message, what it means to be an evangelist, an ambassador or reconciliation.
Lord, even as you mercifully draw us to you, may we invite and bring others with us, so that they too, may know peace, and what it means to be loved. AMEN
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Metaxas, Eric. Martin Luther: The Man W.ho Rediscovered God and Changed the World (p. 284). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition