He said to them, “Go into all the stadiums & conventions centers of America and preach the gospel to every teenager. The one who believes and sends a text message to 38714 will be receive a ethereal fire insurance policy." - Mark 16:15-16 (TNT) - Tony Nolan TranslationSo thanks to Internet Monk, I am in a cynical sour mood this morning. I guess technically he is not to blame, since he is only the bearer of the bad news. However, I was fine until I read his post from a few days ago, where he lambasted Tony Nolan and the Winterjam tour team for reducing the saving work of Christ Jesus to sending a text message that pledged your acceptance. Although I agree with his indictments, I think I would have rather remained ignorant to this new low for what passes a evangelism.
Honestly, as a person who strives to have genuine discipling relationships in my life, I am not about to pretend that it is a smooth road filled with rolling hills and soft meadows. Entering into life with people is hard. Being open enough to hear to the reality of people's dark underbelly, and being honest enough to reveal your own dark underbelly is no task that completed with out great personal cost. Participation in a community of support, to a person who is broken, and has no sense of their dignity and humanity can not be squeezed into a 25 minute time slot on the weekend. It can not be accomplished in any amount of time by a person who is not aware and repentant of the brokenness in their own life.
Reducing the gospel of Christ to anything less than choosing the way of the cross lived out in front of a world of watchers so that they see it is in the surrender of my rights and my life, that I have a deeper, more profound, more abundant life than the life of their selfish pursuits has brought them.
I read recently where the author stated "Jesus did not come to prepare us for death, he came to teach us to live." I think this is the true mark of discipleship. Evangelism is telling a story meant to cause an emotional feeling followed by a physical response. This outward response is made easier and easier, as the message is more and more watered down from it's roots in a grace meant for the living. Making disciples however, is a participation in the radical inclusive love of Jesus invested meaningfully into the life another, nurturing that love in them as it reveals their true identity as sons and daughters of the King of King.
Words like investment are difficult to hear in a culture obsessed with instant credit and promiscuous consumerism. Nurture is a foreign concept to a people who think food comes wrapped in plastic and sitting on a shelf. Inclusive love is an anathema to the heterogeneous comfort of the monoethnic monoclass monotheology character of the church on every street corner. So the difficulty that results for suffering with God, and participation in the divine life of Christ on earth, is replaced a trickle of truth that cheapens the gospel to a bait and switch comedy routine followed by the simple response of texting for Jesus! This is the real curse.
- Lee Shelton IV