May 8, 2017

The Day the Lutheran Preacher Stunned His Congregation

When I was about 14, my Lutheran Pastor preached a sermon.

That is a statement because most of the time, he gave little inspirational sermonettes.  A softly spoken, feel good, 15-minute talk designed to tell me how much God loved me and how secure I was in my position in Christ.  It was a comfortable and affirming message; promptly forgotten over Sunday lunch at the Ryan's all you can eat salad bar.  This message was different; decades later his words still ring true.

Our mild-mannered servant Pastor from the Mid-West lit into his complacent suburban congregation like a sweaty tent preacher.  Stunned and wide-eyed, nobody moved.  He convicted us for leaving the work of the church to him and to him alone.  He visited the sick, he led the Bible study, he organized the food drives, he did the counseling, he did it all and we let him.  

Being 14, I felt sorry for what he was going through, but I was a kid, I was not supposed to do those things.  That was for the adults to do, then he hit me right between the eyes with this question:

"When was the last time you told someone about Christ?"

I squirmed, I shifted - I could not recall ever directly witnessing to anyone.  Apparently, I was not alone.  Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, estimates that only 2% of Christians actively share their faith.  There are a myriad of reasons why and each believer needs to examine their own heart but at 14, I was afraid of rejection by my peers.  I was afraid to be labeled as a crazy Christian, I was not brave enough.

Over the years, I began to understand that witnessing to someone is the most sacred and loving thing you can do for them.  It takes courage.  The alternative though is to leave hurting people without hope.  To let people grieve without Christ, to face an uncertain future without eternal salvation, to risk tomorrow without the protection of the cross.  How much of a coward do you have to be to let someone you love face eternal damnation in Hell and not tell them?

Praying with the Hurting
Every encounter is different, each circumstance calls for a Holy Spirit inspired approach.  Sometimes evangelism is logical and fact based, others times it may call for discussions that are reasoned and scientific.  Some simply need to hear that there is hope in Jesus Christ and hear of His love, some need to know there is a cleansing from their sin.  Others need comfort when a loved one has died, some need to be shocked by the reality of hell. 

Cowards and fools think that all Evangelism is street corner preachers screaming at people that they are going to hell.  Do not let the judgment of cowards and fools keep you from telling others about Christ.  Be the 2%.