11 Jan, 2011 Is the gospel a ‘product’?
In setting up this website I put a catch-phrase under the ministry’s name: Shining Lights.co – Helping the Church see afresh what a great ‘product‘ it has. It was suggested by some that the use of the word ‘product‘ to refer to the gospel was demeaning to God. In all likelihood I will change this catch-phrase at a later time as the focus of the ministry becomes more clarified in the months to come, but I have to admit to putting the word there knowing it would be provocative. The questioning however caused me to reflect…
In Matthew 13:44-46 Jesus referred to the gospel as a lost pearl (an asset of some value) and as a field (an expensive possession), so justification could be made – if it were wanted.
But justification isn’t wanted, as the intent was to be provocative. I think we all – if we are honest – treat our Lord as far less than He is; far less than He is worthy of. We hold in our hands and hearts the greatest message in all humanity – the most important message in all of history – the ONLY message that can bring forgiveness and reconciliation of the individual to the eternal God who both created us and will also judge us… …and how do we treat this great message? How do we treat our Lord? How much importance do we place on obeying His command to share this message with all people? How much belief does it seem we really have in our whole faith – that without Christ people are separated from God by their unforgiven sin? How much love does it seem we have for those we claim to love?
I think we all fall short, and this is the point.
Yes – to refer to God, or the gospel, as a ‘product‘ demeans them both. Yet we treat them as less than this. We might tell a friend about a good website, or a good product in a shop – but do we tell them of Jesus? We might pass them a discount card for use at a mega-mall – but do we pass them a relevant tract? (Btw – relevant tracts exist.) We might tell them of an amazing experience we had on our holiday – but do we tell them of the amazing experience we have in knowing God, and walking life with Him?
My own apathy in sharing reflects that I too have far less belief in the gospel which I claim to believe in than I ought. Caught up in my own busyness and thoughts I care too little for those without Christ. At the moment we are house sitting, and looking at a house purchase, having just returned to live in NZ. I have little to no concern for the neighbors where I am, or to talk to any person when sitting next to them waiting for my fish and chips. I am too caught up in my own world.
I hope what I apply my time to in the next few years can serve to challenge this – both in myself, and in others. If there ever were a time for the true evangelists to arise it must surely be now! More people need the message than ever on this planet. Time is certainly shorter than ever (the time is urgent!) And even in our own nation of New Zealand it is possible for Christmas to come and go, and for a person to not even hear the name of Jesus.
Please pray for me, that God will help me put together resources, and then projects, that will help enCOURAGE us to stand (Philippians 2:27) – for that is what we need to do (I think we’re sitting down).
Please pray for yourself also, that God will stir in your heart.
Let’s recognise together that there is a real problem in the Church – we have lost the centrality of the gospel.
Let’s pray and work together – and with sincerity – to address that.