As you return from this morning’s race, you feel a great sense of joy and satisfaction as you reflect on all of the ways you demonstrated Christ’s love during the event. You gave three friends a ride to and from the event, with one of them being quite a bit out of the way. You even packed extra bananas and coffee for each of them. At the event, you arrived early enough to help the race director finish setting up the finish line area and let two cold athletes borrow extra sweatshirts you had in your car so they could stay warm before the race. While racing, you had to be the most enthusiastic athlete out there… encouraging racers and high-fiving fans and volunteers. You even stopped to help someone who had fallen to be sure they were OK and picked up a used gel wrapper out on the course (no one likes a litter-bug!). After the race, you hung around the finishers’ area to cheer on other athletes as they sprinted to the line, and handed out cold water bottles after they finished. You stuck around for the awards ceremony to congratulate all of your co-competitors, and when called up to receive your 3rd place age-group award, you pointed heaven-ward. Yes, that was a good morning! If St. Francis was right when he said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words,” you hit this out of the park!
While I would certainly celebrate any athlete who demonstrated this kind of love and service on race day, I have a question: “Was the Gospel presented?” Honestly, if a by-stander was able to see you do all of the above, assuming they were inspired by your demonstrated kindness, would they come up with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? Would your actions and attitudes lead them to conclude on their own that there was a God, that they were separated from Him due to their sin, that God sent His Son Jesus to earth to die on a cross to restore their relationship with Him, and that they needed to repent and believe in Him to receive this gift of eternal life?
While the heavens declare God’s glory (Ps. 19:1), I’m not convinced the actions mentioned above lead to a personal understanding of the Gospel. Why? It needs to be proclaimed to be understood and responded to (Rom 10:14-17). People just don’t get there on their own after seeing kindness and sacrifice.
And so my title question, “Are you good enough?” Are your actions good enough that the Gospel is explained through them? For me, and perhaps for you, the answer is, "no." I simply can’t be good enough so that my actions alone clearly and completely tell Jesus’ story. Actions and words are necessary to explain the Gospel and give people a chance to respond to the good news.
And so, my encouragement… please radically demonstrate Jesus’ love through sacrifice and kindness, perhaps by doing some of the ideas listed above. However, be ready and willing to share Jesus verbally, even when it’s uncomfortable. This is what’s required to clearly communicate with others the lifesaving message of the Bible.
Two quick last points… First, I do understand the value and often necessity of relationship building before people are ready to hear and respond to the Gospel. And so, all of the above needs to be done as the Holy Spirit prompts, in His time. He is after all responsible for the results of our sharing. The point of this article is not to encourage skipping this, but to simply point out that, at some point, words are needed. Be ready and be willing to share!
Secondly, we would love to help equip you for this! Please check the EMI Page (www.fcaendurance.org/emi) of our site and our new online Gospel presentation at www.whydoyourace.com for help. We’ve also got an equipping retreat planned in MN this fall, and we would love to have you join us. Get equipped… there’s no excuse not to!
Special thanks to Chris Anderson for writing this article. It's a featured article on TheBody.
Fri, July 15, 2011
by FCA Endurance