The Golden Rule and The Great Commission
“You claim to have a passion for evangelism, that you care for the souls of the unbeliever. Why do you then focus your blog posts on things like abortion and the lifestyle of Christians? You speak very little on evangelizing and seem to focus on our outward works as if we are to be good to get to heaven. What are you doing with this blog? Trying to earn salvation or peoples respect?” This is a short paraphrase of an email I received recently. But I must confess that the sender sent it tongue in cheek, as the sender is a friend. But still, it really made me think.
Let me first say that I don’t believe that we can earn our salvation. Salvation is a free gift of grace. I am not doing anything to earn my salvation, or to earn divine acceptance, or peer acceptance, or acceptance from the world. In fact this blog has caused a lot of people to reject me, to reject my beliefs, to reject this blog. But that is OK by me. The gospel is offensive, the cross is offensive, (Gal 5:7-11) and many more people will be offended by what I write than there will be who are in agreement with me. There are Christians who think that I am a fundamentalist bigot for my stances on Biblical truth and doctrine; there some who think I am too liberal in what I say; others say I am too legalistic. If I tried to please everyone I would probably lose my mind! So we cannot care what others think – unless they are our spiritual elders of course 🙂
Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” The fear he speaks of is one of awe, not of terror. If God is in control, why would I fear the world? Why would I fear the reaction of people for my biblical stances that I post about? Why would I fear rejection for my stance on abortion? Why would I fear losing my job for my stance on not working on Sunday? Why would I fear man or the devil or anyone, if I am walking in the truth of God’s word? Why would I be afraid if I believe that God is ultimately in control? What about you?
So, if I believe in free grace, why do I continue to write about us being living and active members of the body? Why do I stress the importance of personal devotions and prayer? or community involvement? or church involvement? Why do I stress being a “living” Christian? Why do I stress the importance of the role of husband and father? Why do I even care about what you do? I mean I have enough of my own problems to worry about..right? The answer is because my salvation was a free gift to me, by way of an amazing, awesome and radical love. Our Father has accepted me fully, even though I rejected Him and daily continue to sin against Him. He accepted me by faith alone in his son, apart from any works or effort on my part. And so he wants me to be thankful for this free gift of grace. How do we show that we are thankful? He wants us to love Him and others in an amazing, awesome and radical way as well. I don’t love people in order to save myself, but I love people because I am saved, because I know the forgiveness and restoration that comes from faith in the atoning work of Christ. That is why I stress the importance of these things.
So, just like our Father cares for us, He has freed us to likewise care for others! We are to care about all the suffering in this life, including abortion, including plight of the poverty stricken, the prostitute, the starving children of the world, the single mother, and most importantly, most pressing, most all-consuming, He has freed us to care about the future eternal suffering for those people who are outside of the body Christ. So he gave us the Golden Rule and the Great Commission as standards to live by. Ultimately both have the glorification of God in view, but the golden rule is with the view to the suffering of our neighbour in this life, and the great commission is with the view to the suffering of the lost in eternity.
It may appear that I went off topic, but I have not at all. To answer the original question…before we can evangelize, we must realize how much He has truly loved us. When we do, we will also realize how much we are to also love others. If we don’t comprehend His love, then we won’t love others in this way. If we don’t love others, we won’t care about their souls. If we don’t care for their souls, we won’t evangelize. Do you see where I am going? Evangelism starts on your knees in prayer, in a loving relationship with your creator.
Real love is radical. Real love does not close its eyes to either the suffering in this world or the final, terrible suffering of the next.
But what do I know? I am not a theologian. I am just One Christian Dad.
By the way, if you live in Chilliwack…tomorrow there is a chance to open your eyes to the suffering of your neighbour in this life… there is a Choice Chain Saturday, July 14 at 5 corners in Chilliwack 10 am to 12pm. Come a bit early for a briefing if you have never been to one.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.