October 14, 2014

Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

This is a justly famous exposition of the logic of evangelism, yet many Christians exclude themselves from the sequence at one point or another. For most, the biggest problem is that they don’t understand that they have been sent. However, the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) that Jesus delivered before His ascension was not just to those present, but to all believers. Many people relegate that to missionaries and the like, but Jesus made no such distinction. When He was talking with the 11 disciples, Jesus specified starting in Jerusalem, that is, right where they were, before expanding the field to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8) There are Christians who grasp that much, at least intellectually, but they receive it only as a guilt trip, thinking themselves unqualified for the task. Well, big secret: nobody’s qualified in their own strength, but God’s Holy Spirit is available to all who will receive Him. (again, Acts 1:8) When we think we have to make people believe, we have every reason to give up before we start. Our job is simply to present the message as clearly and winningly as possible, to give people the opportunity to believe. You could paraphrase what Paul said here as, “How can people believe if they don’t have the opportunity?” Those who make themselves available to God as carriers of His good news are to be commended indeed. I find it interesting that the Japanese renders the quote from Isaiah 52:7 as, “How splendid are the feet of those who communicate good news.” We don’t have to be pretty to be splendid!

This is of course a call I have answered, as a pastor in Japan, but it is my earnest desire that as many others as possible accept the call as well. Relatively few are called as pastors, where they are or in some distant place, but all are called to be witnesses. Some exclude themselves on the basis of verbal gifts, but you don’t have to have a silver tongue to be an effective witness. The most important thing is congruity between what you say and what you do. Some exclude themselves at precisely that point, citing their imperfections, but none of us are perfect. Actually, the desire to be a better representative of Jesus is one of the best motives for living closer to Him! Japan is certainly not the easiest place to communicate the Gospel, but Jesus didn’t say, “Go to the easy places,” He said, “Go to the ends of the earth.” I am never to give up, but remember that He can use even me to tell others about Him, so that they may have the opportunity to believe.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the opportunities You’ve given me to share Your truth over the past few days. May I be available and responsive all the time, so that I may indeed make the most of every opportunity, (Ephesians 5:16) so that as many as possible may believe and be saved, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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