BAM. Here we go. I’m stirring the pot. Somewhere out there, one of you is sick of the church giving lip service to love. You read that first line and just winced a little bit. In fact, this is the epitome of the gospel to you… loving people in Jesus name. Feeding the hungry. Hands-on love of the broken and wounded and penniless and hopeless. After all, Jesus talked about the least of these, right? And faith without works is dead, right? And the greatest commandment is “love God,” and we do that best by loving people, RIGHT? You remember this quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.”
It’s a great line. Someone out there has written this quote in your journal, and it has changed your life. The way you think about the Gospel and what you’re here for has been forever changed. Praise God that you are hungry to serve Him and love people. I mean that. So don’t let this dampen the fire of your love…
Francis of Assisi was wrong.
Look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Paul reminds us (because we tend to forget) EXACTLY what the clear, unadulterated Gospel message is… the one Paul would give his life for: (1) Jesus died for our sins. (2) He was buried. (3) He was raised on the third day.
That’s it. It’s a clear message. No sandwiches involved. Love and service are a natural and healthy RESPONSE to the Gospel, but can never be mistaken for the message itself. Jesus penal substitutionary atonement for our sin, and His victory over death in the Resurrection are the heart of the Gospel. It is a message that must be PROCLAIMED… it cannot be shown.
You can show His love. You can show your love for Him. You can show the world a different way to live, and you can give yourself away in love and service to others.
But you are not sharing the Gospel unless you proclaim it. You’ve got to tell people who Jesus is and what He has done, because THAT is what has the power to save souls.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
“francis of assisi was wrong :: use words” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.