Be bold

Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by Christian friends, coworkers and family. Insulation makes being a a Christian easy. There’s no one to make you think or to challenge your beliefs. I got comfortable–too comfortable.

Confession: the last time I shared my faith was in high school (and it didn’t end well).

I find sharing my faith uncomfortable. My excuses are numerous: I don’t really know any non-Christians. I’m a people pleaser–I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t know Scripture well enough to present the Gospel. What if I can’t answer their questions? I’m more of a “share my faith by my actions” kind of person.

On Sunday, J.D. Greear preached about sharing the Gospel and being bold about our faith (listen to his sermon on Acts 4:23-37 here).

I was convicted to say the least, but even so, I really couldn’t think of any opportunities to share my faith. So, I began praying for opportunities and for boldness when those opportunities arose.

This afternoon, I opted to hang out at the mall for a while after work and write some cover letters (for some reason, I work best when I’m tuning out the world).

While I was there, a mall employee that I’ve chatted with a few times came over and sat with me while he ate his dinner.

Conversation flowed freely as we talked about our families, backgrounds and future plans. We talked about D.C. for a little bit, which oddly enough (or not so oddly if you know about my experiences in D.C.), the conversation turned to church.

Talking about church led to a conversation about faith and Christianity.

I’ll be honest. It was rocky. I fumbled at the beginning. I didn’t present the Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws.

I mainly asked him a lot of questions about what he believes. I tried to make sense of what he believes and place it side by side with what the Bible says.

He believes there is a G/god, that sin exists and that your soul continues to exist after you die. He doesn’t believe that we need to be reconciled to God or that we need a Savior.

God gave me boldness and he gave me the words to say (sometimes I didn’t even realize what was coming out of my mouth until I had already said it).

I keep thinking of things that I should have said and questions that I should have asked. He still doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He’s not coming to church with me on Sunday. He didn’t pray to accept Christ.

BUT

I obeyed. He heard the Truth. We parted as friends. 

God is good.

The big stink about the inaugural benediction (and the Gospel)

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day, taking in the usual tweets… you know: gun control, Oscar nominations and the White House Chief of Staff replacement (yes, there’s some @HonestToddler and @DepressedDarth there too). But then, a certain news story began taking over my newsfeed, and it went something a little like this:

BOILING SPRINGS, NC (XYZ NEWS SERVICE) – Evangelical pastor, Louis Giglio, withdrew from giving the benediction at the president’s inauguration on Jan. 21, after a liberal group discovered a controversial sermon of his on homosexuality from the mid 1990s.

ThinkProgress, the group that unearthed the sermon, provided several portions of the manuscript on their website in their initial story.  The original recording can be found here.

In the message, Giglio points to multiple passages in the Bible that state that homosexuality is a sin (I Corinthians 6:9-10, for example).

“…Homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle… homosexuality is not just a sexual preference homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the Word of God… It is not ambiguous and unclear. It is very clear.”

Giglio went on to offer hope and the promise healing. “And the only way out of a homosexual lifestyle, the only way out of a relationship that has been engrained over years of time, is through the healing power of Jesus.”

ThinkProgress and many other Americans didn’t like that message. They didn’t like being told that homosexuality is wrong. They certainly didn’t like being told that homosexuals should change.

But maybe, just maybe, they took Giglio’s message a little too personally. Later on, he says, “We’ve got to say the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that you would say to me… it’s not easy to change, but it is possible to change.”

Giglio puts himself, and everyone else sitting in his congregation, in the same plight as those living a homosexual lifestyle—the place of a sinner.

In Romans 3, Paul is very clear about who is affected by sin.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:9-12 (ESV)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 (ESV)

You are a sinner. I am a sinner. Louis Giglio is a sinner. Billy Graham is a sinner. Homosexuals are sinners. Adulterers are sinners. Gluttons are sinners. The proud are sinners. Gossips are sinners. Murders are sinners. Every single human being on this earth is a sinner.

As sinners, we are condemned. Judgment. Hell. Eternal separation from God. These are the consequences of sin.

In Romans 6, we see our death sentence pronounced.

“For the wages of sin is death,…”

Romans 6:23a (ESV)

The beauty is that Paul doesn’t stop with death. He finishes the sentence.

“BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23b (ESV) (Emphasis my own)

What exactly is this free gift?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

John 3:16-17 (ESV)

The book of John tells us that God sent Jesus, his son—His perfect, spotless son—to our sinful and fallen world. Not to just coexist with the sinners… not to bring judgment on sinners. Jesus came to earth as a substitute for our sins.

HE was condemned. HE was judged. HE suffered through Hell. HE was separated from God. HE took on the consequences of our sins.

He offers us a new life, not one defined by our sin (and consequently, our separation from God), but one defined by His holiness. All we have to do is accept His gift of eternal life.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) (Emphasis my own.)

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Everyone. That means Louis Giglio, Billy Graham, homosexuals, adulturers, gluttons, the proud, gossips, murders–even you and me.