Friday, March 17, 2017

Propaganda or Good News

When the actor in the commercial tells us that the new Whizzbang mowers are 85% more efficient than any previous mower, that claim is likely to be taken as propaganda. When the neighbor tells us that he bought one of the new Whizzbang mowers and that that it works far better than any mower he used before, that is good news.

Sometimes we wonder why people are not interested in the gospel. Sometimes we wonder why so few receive it as good news. There are many reasons, but one reason is the source of the information.

When the preacher proclaims the gospel, his words are taken as propaganda by many listeners. Those who resist the message of Christ tend to assume that the preacher is just saying what he gets paid to say. But when ordinary Christians tell what a difference Christ has made in their lives, that sounds more like good news.

The ordinary Christian may not speak as well as the preacher. The ordinary Christian may not know as much Bible as the preacher. But the ordinary Christian is more likely to get a fair hearing for the gospel than the preacher. Coming from the mouth of a neighbor, a friend, a relative, the message is more likely to be received as good news – especially if a positive difference has been observed in the life of the person speaking.

As the song says, “If you cannot sing like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus, and say ‘He died for all.’” In doing so, you will likely be a more effective evangelist than I would be. What does your neighbor think of the gospel? Does he receive it as propaganda or as good news? The answer depends to a large extent on where he hears the gospel. If he hears it from you, there is a much better chance that it will be heard as good news.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Which Direction Are We Headed?

I have a blood test about this time every year. I will not bore you with the details, but I will say that the results this year looked good. It is not that everything was ideal. One item definitely was not. But the encouraging part was that the figures were better than they had been a year ago, and far better than they had been two years ago. Physically, I seem to be headed in the right direction.

How is it with us spiritually?

It is easy to tell ourselves, “I still worship. I still pray. I still obey.” But how do things look if we ask different questions. “What is my direction? Am I praying more or less than in the past? Is my worship more or less fervent? Is my obedience more ready or more hesitant?”

As a truck speeds down the road it is not the person in the middle of the road that is in the greatest danger. Provided that he keeps walking, the person in the road when the truck first appears should be on the opposite sidewalk before the truck arrives. The person in greatest danger is the person headed toward the road, the one who, if he continues, will reach the road just as the truck reaches the point where he is crossing.

Too many of us take comfort that we are not in the devil’s clutches. We fail to realize that, while we are not yet firmly in his grip, it may be the direction we are headed.

Which way are we headed? Is our home more or less of a place of worship? Is our life more or less devoted to the Lord?

Physically, it is difficult to maintain a static level of health. We are normally either getting better or slipping back. Spiritually, change is the only constant. We are always either drawing nearer to God or drifting from him. Which is it? Which direction are we headed?