In a pluralistic world of a plethora of thoughts, ideas, philosophies, and worldviews, it makes total sense to me that Christians need to be equipped and engaged in “contending” for the Gospel.
I get it. I really do.
It’s a larger marketplace of ideas and as such Christians ought to engage this marketplace. We’re no longer entitled the majority of market share – if we’ve even ever held that distinction.
But here’s one thing I’d like to convey: In the pursuit of contending for the gospel:
Please, don’t be a jerk.
Because honestly, “Christian jerks” are a tragic paradox – especially when they think they are doing the Kingdom a great favor.
Let’s contend for the Gospel but let’s not be jerks in the process. Nowhere do I read in the Scriptures, “Contend for the gospel as a jerk.”
What I’m suggesting isn’t all that radical:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Ephesians 4:26-27; 31-32
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
This call is apropos to everyone, in my opinion, because if we’re all honest with ourselves,
there’s a little bit jerk within all of us, right?
We don’t have to be mean spirited. We don’t need to pummel someone down into submission…
Or in other words, while I do indeed appreciate the value and importance of theology and doctrine, I would suggest that what will fascinate people to consider the gospel of Christ – will ultimately be…
“how we live our lives.”
The Holy Spirit will convict and change. May our lives simply testify and point to the truth and gospel of Christ.
Here’s a short snippet from a recent sermon from Philippians about not being a jerk:
27 Replies to “please, don’t be a jerk”
Christians often feel we need to be the ones to convince people that they are in a burning building. No matter how hysterical we act, we cannot convince people to get out of the building unless they believe it is on fire. God convinces them it is on fire. Sometimes he uses what we say and do, but he changes their heart. Then we need to be a friend that is there to help.
I concurr whole-heartedly. If we love as Jesus loves, then there is no allowance for being a jerk.
I can’t remember where I heard it, but I remember someone saying, “the Gospel is an offense so we don’t have to make it any more offensive.”
On another note…
@Jeremy – I agree with you (and PE) that it’s the Holy Spirit that calls us to Christ but if I could push back a bit on your metaphor of the burning building, I think it could feed into the idea that Christianity is primarily about salvation (getting people out of the burning building, removing one’s self from a fallen world). While evangelism is hugely important, I think just as important is the work of redeeming the fallenness of the world (staying in the building and trying to put the fire out, to use your metaphor).
Love the burning building metaphor…and your extension of it here, randall. I’d go as far as to say that staying in the building and trying to put the fire out IS evangelism, in the sense that we become partners with the King who reigns over all creation in His redemption plan for everything He created. Salvation is not just for human beings.
Romans 8:20-21 (New Living Translation)
20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
Make disciples, not just converts. Join with what Jesus is up to in the world to redeem it all. Stay in the building.
Randall- you heard it from PE, or at least that’s my guess, because I heard the same thing from him during a sermon.
I like what you did with Jeremy’s metaphor. Too many “rapture ready” Christians…
A great little comic that this reminds me of:
This is our mission at Doable Evangelism: To help Christians share their faith without being jerks.
Many evangelists I meet challenge this by saying, “The Gospel is an offense to those who are perishing!” Some have even boldly proclaimed that unless we are offending people we are not proclaiming the “true Gospel” therefore. To which I normally reply, “Are you sure it’s the Gospel that’s offending them? Because it would be a real bummer to find out, at the foot of Jesus, it was you.”
yay! love it 😉 going to remember this one!
I totally hear you. I think the other side of the scenario would also be, don’t be a woos when being a contender of the gospel, either. I’ve seen both extremes, and neither work. It’s become quite a trend to be “loving” but I’ve witnessed a lot of Christians confusing love with being nice and playing it safe. Loving also includes being truthful and opposing, when a situation calls for it.
very well said
i agree…wholeheartedly. the world is desperate for the love of christ followers who are seeking to know God, not christian jerks who ‘know’ theology. well said, and well thought out….particularly, ‘doctrine does not save people.’
it seems to me that only time Jesus was a “jerk,” or “offensive” as some like to argue, was when he was talking to religious folk. hmmmmm.
I’m very touched by this post, and find much to learn from it.
However…the first quotation is from James, not Timothy. 1 Timothy 1:19-20 sounds NOTHING like that!
yup. thanks & fixed.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! For being a cup of cold water, and a breath of desperately needed fresh air 😉 Love and Peace to you.
We always need to be ready to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, but that doesn’t mean that we’re to be combative. It’s all about standing on the Rock which is Christ, sure and certain because of Him and the truth that is in Him, while at the same time being willing to help others, and in fact helping them, to find their footing in Him. We in Christ don’t reach out with a closed fist, we reach out with an open hand.
You sound like a jerk in this post IMHO.
@matt d: i already confessed that there’s a little bit of jerk in all of us.
Just like to say, sometimes it’s not that I want to be a jerk, it’s a weakness. I’ve seen in my wife the best heart, but sometimes she says or does things that don’t agree with that. It’s a shortcoming that I too confess to, but after seeing the power of GOD, I ask why did He allow that to overcome me? I think it’s to show that He is GOD and I am not? But moreover, it’s b/c without Him we are truly nothing. He loves us so much, but when we are truly sad about that, it reveals to Him and the universe that we are sons of GOD. We can realize that.
Have you complimented anyone today? Have you appreciated or blessed anyone today? “-)
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Gandhi