As I’ve been reading through David Platt’s “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream”, I’ve been forced to re-think the way I view God and my faith in Him (in a good way).
It has also forced me to rethink the way we do evangelism and the way we represent God and Jesus to the people, Christian and non-Christian alike.
We have, probably (hopefully) unintentionally, taken the God of the Bible, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, mighty, loving, beautiful, incredible and awe-inspiring, and turned Him into a puny “god” that says, “Choose me! Accept me! Life will be so much better for you! Just follow me and do what I say and things will be great!”
This “god” is puny, weak, and desperate for our love and attention. He has no power of his own. He needs us to help him, because he can’t do anything without us.
This view of God has done so much damage to the witness of Christ and the impact of the American church.
Let me explain.
Much of my ministry and evangelical background is working with Child Evangelism Fellowship, Inc., in the state of New Jersey. I absolutely enjoyed working with CEF and spreading the Gospel. The people I worked with were incredible Christians and many of them are doing amazing work by the power of God.
However, looking back to the way we presented the Gospel, I see a fatal flaw. And CEF is not alone in this mistake.
Much of the current evangelistic model looks like this: you are a sinner, Jesus came and died for you, you need to accept Him into your heart and receive Him for eternal life. In essence, you choose Jesus.
It glorifies sinners. The testimonies we hear sound like this: “When I was such-and-such years old, I let Jesus into my life. I choose him to be my personal Lord and savior.”
David Platt writes, “We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and we have reduced him to a poor puny Savior who is just begging us to accept him. Accept him? Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance. Don’t we need him?”
Biblical Christianity, and a Biblical view of God, is so much different.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see a God who chooses one man out of the entire population of the Earth and separates him, blessing him and guiding him. We this same God pursuing this man’s offspring, the nation of Israel, who is so far away from God that they can’t come back. And He pursues them and chases them, even as they run away and chase after other gods.
In the New Testament, we see this same God do something never done before by any deity in the history of any type of religion: He became flesh and lived on our turf, on our terms, walking physically in the world He created. He took a new approach in pursuing His lost creation, because there was no way they could ever come to Him
You see, our hearts are naturally rebellious toward God. As a result of our sinful nature, we hate God. We hate everything to do with Him. It is our natural state.
Don’t believe me? Look up saints who have taken the Gospel to people who have never heard about Jesus, who in turn murdered the saints for their beliefs. The people who killed them said, “We hate your God and we hate everything to do with your God, so you need to die.”
God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world because He knows something that we seem to have forgotten. It is impossible for us to get to God. Our natural condition is against God, rebelling against Him, running from Him, ignoring Him.
We could never choose God.
He chose us.
Yes, you read that right. God chose us.
God chose us.
In light of this, the testimony then becomes, “When I was so many years old, God chose me to serve Him and He turned my entire world upside down.”
This testimony glorifies God.
The God of the Bible doesn’t need us. He is all-powerful. He can do it all on His own. But in His great wisdom, God chose to let us in on what He’s doing and become part of His plan.
This is not of our own doing. Only God can do that.