I have a friend who is the most generous person I know. He is a guy who would gladly give you the shirt off his back. He is also skinny, with a six pack and perpetually tan so taking his shirt off isn’t exactly offensive. He’s not just generous in offering his shirt. He offers time, money, and his things. But let’s be clear, he’s very generous with money. He’s not rich but what he has, if you need it, you can have it. He doesn’t just give a little, he gives much.
It has me thinking about missions. I live overseas because of him and many others who give generously. I live here to continue gospel ministry. When we think about the gospel ministry, we need to give the gospel generously. The opposite of a generous person is a cheapskate, I don’t want to be a gospel cheapskate. How can someone be a gospel cheapskate? We cheapen the gospel when we do not share the gospel robustly.
We cheapen the gospel by minimizing it to just a couple of verses or a memorized presentation. Furthermore, we cheapen the gospel when we make the goal of our ministry getting someone to “pray the prayer.” I remember hearing someone share how they shared the gospel. We shared a hamburger at a restaurant as he told us about his gospel exploits that day. He had little booklets which shared the gospel message. He was in a van with several others evangelizing the city. Rightly, the group started out with prayer and asked God to bless their day. Then they drove to a rough neighborhood. They wanted to win the baddest dudes in the city so they set off looking for people who looked tough.
He told us story after story how he would jump out of the vehicle standing on street corners and share the gospel with them. He would scare them initially but then lead them to Christ. His gospel presentation went something like this: How sure are you if you were to die today that you would go to heaven? After the person expressed some doubt, he would ask, “Would you like to pray this prayer to make sure you go to heaven?” After the person prayed, he’d give them the booklet and jump back in the van. He had an amazing success rate. I’m just not sure we can really call it success. He did consider it a success because he was able to lead someone to Jesus in less than a minute. His best that day was 47 seconds. I was devastated with this gospel cheapskate.
The gospel is not about getting someone to say a prayer to get them out of hell. The gospel is the good news of God. The good news of God means we have to understand him, our offense against him, and his provision for restoration. In other words, we need to know about God, sin, Jesus, and our response. We can’t do that in 47 seconds. I’m hesitant to put a time limit on this process but it takes longer than a minute. If a person comes up to you and asks you what they have to do to be saved chances are it will still take more than 47 seconds but rest assured there have been previous encounters. We don’t need to see how little of the gospel we can share because the message is a message about God. We don’t need to try to minimize God. Instead, we need to see how much we are able to communicate about God.
The gospel is the gospel because it is about God. It is rich and wonderful because it is his story. It is breathtaking and captivating because only he could make the way. It is marvelous and miraculous because we get to be involved in sharing this great news! If your heart resonates with some of this, then why try to share as little as possible?
When we think about a gospel cheapskate, we need to remember Jesus. He didn’t give us part of himself. He gave us all of himself. He died so we can live. He paid for our sin so we can have a relationship with God. He came to earth so we can go with him and so much more. God is the God of so much more. He can do more than we can ask or think. He gives his grace and mercy more than we can imagine. These attributes of God will be discussed in the next post so stay tuned.