People Need the Lord
They are all around us—neighbors, coworkers, friends, and even family—people who need the Lord, but don’t have a clue just how much they do. Having lived almost my entire life as a believer in Christ, it is difficult for me to understand the mind and heart of an unregenerate person. How do they process their world and their experiences without God in the equation? For me He is in everything. When I see a beautiful sunrise, I give Him praise. When I receive a blessing, I give Him thanks. When I see a need, I seek His help. When things look dire, I find my hope in Him. What do people do who do not have that element in their lives?
It’s not even like they all seem that miserable. They have fun, they have friends, they live full, often rewarding lives. They seem oblivious to their dire need for the eternal salvation Jesus offers them, and the abundant life that is ours in Christ. All may seem calm on the surface, but what lies beneath? A recent survey in Great Britain shows that 89% of British young people (16-29 yr. olds) feel there is no meaning to their lives. 89%! They laugh, they love, they work, they play, but they echo the words from Ecclesiastes: meaningless, meaningless, meaningless. It would seem to me that people in such a state are one lonely moment away from despair.
So what do we who have found meaning, purpose, hope, peace, salvation and union with Christ do as we encounter people who need the Lord—whether obviously or subtly? First we pray. Pray their hearts and minds will be opened to see their need. Pray they can see the emptiness of their lives, the hopelessness. Pray they can sense that there is more, that there is something missing, and have a desire to find it. Pray their hearts and minds will be prepared and open and ready to receive the truth, that there will be a hunger for it, and a recognition of God’s truth when it is presented to them, one that they will eagerly receive. Pray that God will bring people into their lives who will care about them, pray for their salvation, love on them, and witness to them, sharing the gospel. We must not neglect this foundation of prayer, for it has vital power for success of proclamation of the gospel.
Next, we prepare ourselves. This preparation also begins with prayer. We need to pray to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as we encounter people to know how and when to approach them with truth. We need to pray for the ability to love lavishly those around us, because they are far more likely to listen and respond to someone they can sense values them and is “for” them than someone with a notch-on-the-belt motivation or condemning attitude. We need to also pray the Lord will lead us in how to prepare with knowledge of the scripture and both logical and spiritual arguments to meet the deceptions under which many of them may be living.
About a year ago I began to be frustrated with my own evangelism training. I have been through a few “methods” including the very intensive Evangelism Explosion training, but that was more than 30 years ago. Many of the past methods of evangelism necessitate an understanding of sin. In just three decades our culture has so changed that people often have no concept of sin. What we saw as sin back then is now merely a “choice.” What right do we have to tell them any behavior they have chosen is morally inferior to ours? In fact, we are the “sinners,” under this current culture, for saying there are absolutes and judging their choices. How dare we? How do we confront a culture with the truth of the gospel under these conditions?
When I expressed this question and frustration to a friend, he told me of a book he had read by Ken Ham, Gospel Reset, which started me on a journey of reading other books in the genre and watching some DVDs. Both my friend and I shared these ideas with Pastor Jay, which he subsequently used in a sermon in his series on Acts earlier this year. Simply put, we no longer live in an Acts 2 culture—one like Peter preached to, and like we had up to 30 years ago, where the basics of the Bible were understood, if not fully followed. When we witnessed back then, people had a foundation of knowledge of sin and God. Now we live in more of an Acts 17 culture, like Paul preached to in Athens. Like the Greeks, our culture doesn’t understand the concept of sin, or God’s right to judge it. Like the Greeks, the culture has a totally different mindset, sees the gospel as foolishness, and dismisses it. Our old methods of evangelism to people who need the Lord can often fall flat with such an audience.
While I am still on this journey of prayerfully trying to figure out how to prepare to address this new cultural reality, I am also convinced of this: The gospel is still the gospel. God still loves the world, and wants to save as many as will come to Him. The Holy Spirit still works in hearts and awakens them to truth. There are still people all around who need the Lord, and we are still called to love them and faithfully share the truth. When we offer our loaves and fishes in faith that God will multiply, even our feeble attempts to share will bear fruit in their lives. As we share, we need to pray and prepare to share even more effectively.
This is a link to an interview with Ken Ham about the book Gospel Reset. While I believe this book is a great beginning, it only whets the appetite. I’m still in search of the pathway to feel I am well equipped to give an answer for the hope that is in me.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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