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Changing me February 24, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in God, Life.
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The religious tradition I grew up in held a high view of personal evangelism with this definition – telling someone about Jesus and asking them if they would like to receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior.  Evangelism was something to aspire to – an activity for the spiritually elite.  This regularly caused a great deal of anxiety on my part.  I felt that my ability to please or disappoint God lay primarily in this one thing.  I constantly struggled with feeling like it was something I should do, but didn’t want to – which made me feel even worse about myself.

All of that has changed in the last 8 months.  I have begun to see the gospel in a new light.  I always knew that Jesus came to save me from my sins.  What I missed was that He also came to save me from my righteousness – even my attempts at doing things to please God.  I now realize (at least most of the time) that I can’t do anything to earn God’s favor.  I have to believe that the work Jesus did through his life, death and resurrection is sufficient to provide me with right standing before God and complete acceptance.

The other major misunderstanding I had of the gospel was that it was the A,B,C’s.  Sort of the first steps, the starting place and then as you mature, you move on to deeper spiritual things.  The thing that has revolutionized my understanding is that the gospel is the A to Z.  Even on this side of salvation, I still have no hope of pleasing God apart from Christ and his work on my behalf.  This realization has been incredibly humbling and incredibly freeing.

Humbling because I can’t do anything for it, it’s all grace and I don’t deserve it.  Freeing because I don’t have to do anything.  I can rest in the gift and give up striving to prove myself.

This has changed my approach to evangelism.  No longer am I trying to convince someone that they need something that I’ve found – which reeks of superiority.  Instead it’s about sharing with someone else that for which I am in constant need of.  The only message I have to offer is the same one I preach to myself everyday.  It’s bread for anyone who is hungry.

I have had more conversations about the gospel and given more explanations of what it is in the past 2 months, than in the previous 5 years combined.  And none of it has flowed out of obligation or guilt.  It hasn’t come from a place of trying to convince the unconvinced.  It has stemmed from faith in the grace God has and will continue to show me.  It is lived out in a life of gratitude and a desire to love people regardless of if they ever accept the gift.

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