Friday, February 25, 2011

Donald English on Jesus Hanging with "Sinners" (and a few of my own thoughts related to training our children)


Donald English makes a good observation about Jesus' practice of having a purposeful amount of fellowship with "tax collectors and sinners":

"The example of Jesus is again our model. He was sustained by his prayers to the Father, and in his fellowship with his disciples (despite their inadequacy). From these, and his deep knowledge of the Scriptures, he drew sustenance to go into the most unlikely company and not only survive in it but actually win others to faith within it. We are called neither recklessly to risk ourselves nor timidly to secure ourselves, but to find the point of life-giving tension between the two. In that way our worship and fellowship have more point and our witness more depth."

A well-grounded follower of Christ is a person who knows the gospel, the Scriptures as a whole, is part of a strong, supportive community of believers, and has a growing relationship with God through Christ (and the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit). Such a person is well-equipped and ready to befriend people who are not believers- those who are lost in sin- in order to share Christ with them. Problems occur, however, when the follower of Christ is not well-grounded before engaging in such fellowship. We (Christians) must hang with unbelieving sinners (not just believing sinners!) in order to share Christ, but not lose sight of Jesus' well-grounded example as English identifies so well.

I always cringe when I hear well meaning parents say they send their kids to this or that school or club or organization "to be a witness". Really? I suppose if their child is a well-grounded follower of Christ (as described above) such engagements might be a worthy mission, however, most young people are in the process of getting well-grounded, not actually well-grounded yet. Heck, how many well-grounded Christian adults to you know these days in evangelicalism? Surely some engagements with unbelievers should be part of training our children, but I fear statements about wanting them to be salt and light before they really know what salt and light are supposed to do is either naive or an excuse.

1 comment:

Woody Woodward said...

When I think of training up young warriors and being equipped, I immediately think, A.J.! Even two years younger than today, his heart and mind was well prepared to confront his neighborhood friend. And being led by His Spirit AJ shared the love of Jesus, being confident in who he was in Christ and what he needed to do. The desire of his young heart was to see his friend come to faith in Christ.
As a new believer, unlike AJ, I remember being severely challenged at my first attempt in sharing my faith. Two well-meaning and well trained up in their own distorted gospel, Jehovah Witnesses came knocking at my door. I was unprepared, and because they had a bible and some “Watch Tower” stuff, I thought they were “on fire for Jesus” just like I was. So I welcomed them into my house. Within 20 minutes I was so confused, I doubted the truth of my brand new, New American Standard Bible as well as my own salvation? But being confused was good. My inability to answer to their twisted gospel questions immediately challenged me to meet with the two embolden “campus crusaders” who led me to faith in Christ. One of the first things the Lord showed me about witnessing was first and foremost, like you shared Pastor Tony, you must be prepared….then and only then can one “give the reason for the hope that is within you.”
Regardless of one’s actual age, the problem with most young believers in Christ is they have a little knowledge about Christ but aren’t prepared enough to know that’s just what it is, “a little knowledge.” Now the more I grow the more I realize how much I need to know. The wonderful challenge for me at Redeemer is the privilege of surrounding myself with so many strong and steadfast believers that push me forward. I am constantly being further challenged to do as the Bereans of old did in Acts 17:11! And what’s ever greater, at Redeemer I don’t have to worry about hearing wrong or watered-down ear-tickling doctrine.