“Why Do We Need Words for the Gospel?”

Thursday is for Discipleship

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a woman who had some serious questions about evangelism and discipleship and how the two worked together. If you have spent any time reading here in the blog, you know that my own perspective is that dividing the task of “making disciples” into evangelism and discipleship is neither helpful, nor biblical. You can read about that here and here and here and many other places. But there is another problem.

When we make this first division, we begin to make other divisions. We begin to divide believing from doing, gospel proclamation from gospel justice and care for the poor.

I think we all have a tendency to confuse means, ends and results. The result of my new relationship with the Savior of the universe who came to seek and save the lost is go on mission with him to seek and save the lost. But it is also true that having seen and experienced the grace that reached me when I was not looking, I can’t help but seek to reach and care and love others who also may not be seeking.

I don’t feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and heal the broken, and rescue the perishing as a means to preach the gospel. But I do all these things because I have been brought near to the greatest lover in the world. He has redeemed me and now I must, I cannot not love others. But that love will always, must always be accompanied with words.

So my friend, we”ll call her Jane, asked me, “Why do we need words?”

Simply, because we want to live and emulate our Lord. Jesus came preaching the gospel of God “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'”

Jane asks, “Is God not bigger than our puny attempts to explain grace and love?”

Most definitely yes, my sister. But that doesn’t negate the need for the word of the gospel to be preached.

I can’t remember who it was who quoted the oft repeated, ‘Preach the gospel, if necessary use words” usually attributed to St. Francis. But the reality is that this quote is theologically wrong and historically inaccurate. There is zero evidence that St. Francis actually said the quote attributed to him and it is inconsistent with the model of how his order proclaimed the gospel and everything we know about the preaching of Francis.

Question:

If you are a disciple of Christ, how does your lifestyle-reflect that “making disciples” is a priority use of your time?


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