"Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever." -Paul

29 August 2008

The First Commissioned Evangelist

By Matt

Today I went back to Joel's wonderful gift, The Bible Experience, and listened to chapters 4, 5, and half of 6 while in the shower. Ha! I could make some rationalization for this bizarre behavior using "living waters" but I won't :) Actually, I usually listen to something while in the shower: podcasts, music, audio books, etc. So, I figured, why not the Bible?

Anyways, one of the great parts of TBE is the representation of demons. It's creepy. It's like stop cleaning yourself and just listen creepy. But anyways, in Mark 5 Jesus and the gang run into a posessed man with multiple demons in him. Curiously, the demons beg not to be sent out of the country and Jesus complies with his wishes by letting them take over the bodies of 2,000 pigs who run out into the water. Okay, couple of questions, why are there so many pigs around Jews and who is raising them? Second, why is Jesus letting the demons get their wish? Maybe Jesus tricked them by letting all the pigs die a minute later or something. I don't get it.

However, the part of this story that captured my attention today is in the last paragraph. The formerly posessed man puts on some nice clothes, pulls a comb through his hair, and then sits around being pretty normal. He begs Jesus to let him become a disciple but Jesus denies him. Instaed he says, "Go home to your own people. Tell them your story--what the Master did, how he had mercy on you." And the guy does it and is the "talk of the town."

I'm gonna call this guy the first commissioned evangelist. Jesus heals a lepor back in chapter 2 but tells that guy to not make a big deal about it: show himself to the priest, make the proper offerings, and then go about his business. This guy doesn't listen and tells everyone about Jesus anyways. I never get why sometimes Jesus tells some people to tell the story and others to keep quiet. Actually, just a little bit past the demon story Jesus tells someone else to keep quiet about him raising a girl from the dead! These are big things, why keep them quiet?! And then, if you are trying to keep this stuff quiet, why tell it to the un-posessed loudmouth who then tells everyone? Don't get that either.

But again, more sidetracks from what I'm simply trying to say. Jesus commissions this guy as the first evangelist. I think, ideally, that's what evangelism is about; not trying to argue your way into someone's salvation, not scaring them out of hell, not playing on emotions and mob hysteria to get decisions. It's about coming along side someone, the folks you already know, and telling them your story. Tell them how God has had mercy on you: how your foot was saved from stumbling, your eye saved from tears, and your soul was rescued from death (to paraphrase Psalm 116). When we tell of the indescribable love we have experienced and show that love to others, it's only a matter of time before that love wins out over anything else. To paraphrase TobyMac, we're made to love God and anything we do or say to convince ourselves otherwise is going to come up short when we get a glimpse of what we've been missing. And that's all evangelism needs to be when you get down to it.


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