Sacred Agents #114

The Gift of Good News

Here we go for another Christmas – it’s a weird season for sacred agents, isn’t it? On the one hand we soak in the richness and exquisite mystery of the incarnation, and on the other – a spiritual desert and ignorant blandness as our culture cheapens the season beyond recognition. How to cope and what to do!

We want to tell people about Jesus. But at the same time, the thought of evangelism can multiply all our feelings about public speaking with all our enthusiasm for conflict. That troubles me greatly, because evangelism is meant to be about sharing good news, and sharing good news is meant to feel great.

So let me offer two encouragements about the public-speaking side: Most of you are not called and shaped by God for it, and that’s OK. In fact it’s good, no offense. Connect with others who are. Serve alongside them; cook the BBQ at the event they’ll be speaking at. And invite others to hear them. Who do you know that has a great knack for talking about Jesus? They need you.

Secondly, sometimes the words do need to come from your lips, and that’s more than OK too. Don’t worry about getting the words all right. It’s the news itself which has the power. If you’re telling someone you’re having a baby, it’s the baby that matters. That’s the big factor. If you stumble around the words a bit, who will care, given the great news? So remember that it doesn’t rest on your performance. It rests on Jesus’ performance, and he’s done pretty well.

Now about conflict. I hate it too. The good news is God’s not a big fan either. He’s all about reconciliation. Swords into ploughshares. The Prince of Peace. But it gets better: Peace is not only the message, it’s also the method. Some rulers say ‘We have to have this war in order to secure peace.’ But Jesus does not use violence, manipulation, trickery, argumentativeness, antagonism, guilt-tripping, bullying, belittling or gaslighting as means to his ends. None of those things win anyone over. Jesus came in peace, so do we.

So we just tell people that they are loved, wanted and invited by God. If they want to argue the toss or brush us aside in pursuit of their yoke of oxen, field or spouse, we can say we’re here if they ever change their mind – and move on to invite others. Evangelism is not about frog-marching anyone to God. The Father would rather let the prodigal go and wait for a free return.

It is a spiritual desert out there. But we’ve found the oasis of living water and get to point others to it. The exact words don’t matter. If some won’t come, that’s on them. But if we don’t even give them a chance to, that is on us.

Merry Christmas, sacred agents. Let’s relax about the message and relax about the method, and just freely give what we’ve freely received.

Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover for ABM and author of Fruitful Church and Taking the Plunge

Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

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