Friday, April 25, 2008

Evangelism in the Real World

One of the most disconcerting problems in all the Christian world is sharing your faith with someone else. We are all concerned (maybe consumed) with seeming normal. If I were to tell someone else about my faith in Jesus, that would necessarily make me a fanatic. I would be embarrassed for others to know what I believe. And heaven forbid that they think I was different than them.

Bill Hybels has been criticized greatly in the church at large. Sometimes the critiques have been justified, but too often we minimize his importance to the work of evangelism. Hybels and his staff at Willow Creek have done as much- perhaps more- for practical approaches to evangelization than anyone else in contemporary western Christianity. His book, Just Walk Across the Room, is filled with hands-on suggestions, opportunities and inspiration. There are three suggestions that Hybels makes that I would like to mention here. Each of these are part of the Hybels canon. If you have heard Hybels speak, been to a conference at Willow, or heard anything about the church, you have been exposed to these approaches.
  • Do/Done. So many people think that the Christian faith is all about following rules and meeting requirements. The problem with this approach is that it is as exhausting as it is futile. It is impossible to "do" enough to make God happy. The better approach, and the one that is historical and biblical is to recognize and receive what God, through Jesus, has already done. You cannot earn salvation, but you can receive it.
  • The Ladder. If the Christian faith were all about doing good deeds and being good enough for God, that would mean that there was some sort of spiritual ladder to climb. Are you good enough? Billy Graham, one of the most famous holy men in America, finds many faults and sins in his own life. He would not place himself very high on the ladder- maybe half-way to heaven. Could you be higher than that? If not, you cannot climb into heaven. You need to know that God offers a different plan, one that does not require you to be perfect.
  • The Bridge. If God is holy, and we believe that he is, he cannot associate with sin. People are sinners and therefore there is divide between humanity and God. All of our attempts to cross that chasm are futile. We cannot get to God. But, God, through Jesus Christ his Son, used the cross as a bridge to get humans to God. All we have to do is cross that bridge through our faith.

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