Allow me to be up front and tell you that many of my ideas, with regard to a mindset of the lost, have been labeled “radical,” but more in the unorthodox sense as opposed to the David Platt sense (pun intended). Ultimately, I try to base my conclusions on Scripture which is coupled with my experiences. The Apostle James in Acts 15 did the same thing when determining what to do with Gentile converts, and I think the time has come to sound the alarm that the gospel being preached by a majority of people seems to be bad news pretending to be good news.
I admit that my methods have shifted over the years and I still feel as though I am in flux with everyone else; especially this past year there has been a significant change in the way I view the Gospel message while remaining true to a mindset that has not really changed in the past three years or so. Methods are not what we are really after, whether thats four spiritual laws or Romans road, etc..hearing the voice of the Spirit instructing and guiding with every person we come in contact with is what we are after. Jesus never healed or spoke in the same way, but he healed and spoke in the same truth: Jesus was revealing his Abba. We are called to witness like Him, in a generative, or creative, manner.
Let Us Begin
There are two areas that I cover in any teaching I do on this topic: Mindset and Message. I will spend the first post on the mindset of a “gospeler.” Did you notice how I left out “methods?” Methods can become stale and even produce adverse effects in evangelism if we suppress Holy Spirit too much in our Gospel presentations. For example, the person being witnessed to has some inner hurt and pain, but because we are set on finishing our presentations the hurts and offenses get passed over and another one bites the dust! We do not just answer the question, we answer the questioner. Methods are attached to modernity with all of its flaws of distilled truth and simply wanting to get to the point without transformation. Sharing your faith takes patience and a desire to make disciples, not converts. This is one of the reasons I repudiate the Christian-fatalism or any abuse of God’s sovereignty.
In their worldview life is a blueprint which is all planned out by the almighty and our fates are set! The problem is that with this in mind we are able to justify all hardened people who do not receive our Gospel, because it was “planned” that way, therefore this worldview actually effects the way we present the Gospel. It is my conviction that a true Kingdom Gospel would present people with the obvious that their heart longs for: justice, peace, joy, love, hope, and true existence. Everyone I meet wants that, but they have to accept the King.
In most cases when people reject the message, it is not the message they reject but just us. Ghandi himself once stated that if it was not for christians, he would have been one. John Lennon was the same way, even going through what he called a conversion to christianity but finding in it the christians who were so boring he could not bring himself to stay there. The Gospel, as I see it, is a forgone conclusion if we are credible witnesses to the King, Jesus Christ.
Our mindset must see people as they aren’t. Not simply what they are doing now, but who and what they could become. The Kingdom is pregnant with possibilities. In other words, we must see people as they could be in Christ. People are precious, precious enough to die for and Jesus extracts the precious from the worthless, not the worthless from the precious. From this place, I have come to is the realization that not all truth is created equal.
judgment and mercy are both true, but James tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment. Both are true but one of greater.
we are unworthy of eternal life, and yet worthy to receive the life.
The Gospel as the proclamation is the heralding of not the whole truth in scripture but only of that which is appropriate to cast before swine. “Turn or burn” is true but the gospel is “turn and live!” That which we proclaim is that which we are. In order for the gospel to be something we constantly feast off of, it has to be something always true, not just for the lost, but for us as well! Jesus never spoke about hell, love or wrath in front of the masses, only His disciples.
Us Versus Them
Too often we see the missional landscape as an “us vs. them” mentality. We draw lines that Jesus did not draw and then we have Christian music, movies and t-shirts that do not work in reaching people. Then we establish where the line is and then create “morality” as the boundary line for those who are in and those who are out. This has created a “club christianity” that requires moral shift for salvation, especially where we have defined moral change as salvation. It becomes what Dallas Willard calls the “Gospel of Sin Management”, instead of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Therefore, it is not right for us to frame a discussion about the gospel with someone as a solution or remedy for fleshly ills or even the answer to the question of meaning. I do not want the lost person to become a better person. What I want is for the dead person to come alive in Christ. It is not “us verses them,” rather it should be, “us with them.” Likewise, many think that Christ died “instead” of us, but truly the scriptures tell us that Jesus died “with” us.
I can remember walking around the college campus simply asking people if we could pray for them. One of the young guys was walking past and after asking if we could pray for him he yelled at us and told us he did not need prayer because he was already a christian. I was slightly offended by his hardness and rudeness to me, but later that night I was praying and I saw an image of the same situation replayed again, except this time my eyes were opened to see in the spiritual realm. As he was walking past me there were demonic forces of shame and insecurity pulling him from the front and pushing from the back and laughing the entire time. Immediately my offense and anger from that one interaction was replaced with tears and compassion for every “hardened” heart to be softened and turned for the Kingdom. When people do not believe it is because the god of this world has blinded their eyes.
There was another time when I was at Starbucks (common occurrence) and a hindu man and his mother were walking to their car. I felt I needed to share my faith with them. I literally ran after them in the cold and rain. The son stopped and spoke with me and I spent literally four minutes sharing the Kingdom by telling him what the Kingdom is, full of life, love, acceptance, forgiveness,etc..What was his response? “Wow,” he stated. “That is amazing.” The young man committed to going to church and reading the gospels when he returned home in Dallas. How could something so drastic happen so quickly? It is by trusting that through our sincerity the Holy Spirit is willing to light up every word spoken of that centers on Jesus. The Holy Spirit loves to talk about Jesus, and it would be wise of us to let Him…
Many times I have found that healing is the best method for opening people up to the Good News. I can not count how many times I have found people hardened to the truth, but they are physically ill, and as soon as they get healed the truth becomes fresh to them. Scores of people have been healed and saved as a result of Divine intervention. Time would fail me to tell you all of the testimonies of people getting healed, and we are not just talking about headaches going away but blind eyes being opened along with ears literally being opened as well. Stories of nerve endings being re-created and numerous other Kingdom happenings. We simply ask people to explain what the ailment is, we place our hand on the pain point (if its appropriate and if not then we find someone of the same sex to do it) and command in the name of Jesus that the sickness or disease come out. Notice that Jesus never prayed for the sick, He healed the sick. He even had a way of speaking to disease as if it was an evil spirit itself, of course we should speak to disease in this way especially if we believe that all of this evil and disease has its blame in the worlds evil system, not in God.
The way I view the lost is here: I believe we are all born to know and trust in the Creator. Lost people are simply amnesiacs who remember a different time of another place that drives them to seek fulfillment and meaning in all things. Coming to Jesus reveals what it really means to be human.
Now that you know some of my mindset, I will reveal the message (in the next post).