I’m reading through Rick Warren’s, “The Purpose Driven Church” (again), and I came across this passage (p.226-27). It’s in the chapter where he talks about how Jesus attracted such great crowds. One point he misses was the novelty factor. However, he makes some terrific points about Jesus’ ministry strategy. Jesus’ message was clear. He was proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand (Mk 1:15; Matt 4:17). However, it’s clear that Jesus understood that the message alone wasn’t enough. The message had to be qualified in some way so that the people would first care to hear it and second believe it. Jesus knew this better than anyone. He seems clear that he did this in two ways. First, by performing miracles; so people would recognize (if not accept) his authority (Mk 2:9-10). Second, by showing the people how much he loved them. His love and compassion won them over (Matt 14:14)!
If Jesus saw the need to qualify his message and earn the right to share it, then why in the world would we be any different?! Doesn’t the way we often do “church” seem so much against Jesus’ ministry pattern? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. So many congregations will hold a Gospel Meeting each year (sometimes even twice a year) and think that, just because they announced the event in their community and paid another preacher to come in and preach, that unbelievers will flock into their building and accept Christ. What puzzles me even more than this is that they will be confused and even upset that no one came! Why would anyone come? It’s past time for the Church to wake up and realize that the 50’s and 60’s are over. Satan has been hard at work winning over our society by changing our culture. We can’t afford to ignore this – peoples souls are at stake. We have to earn the right to share Christ with them by first being Christ to them!
Here’s an excerpt from the passage I referred to:
Because preachers are called to communicate truth, we often mistakenly assume that unbelievers are eager to hear it. But unbelievers aren’t that interested in truth these days. In fact, surveys show that the majority of Americans reject the idea of absolute truth.
Moral relativism is the root of what is wrong with our society. People worry and complain about the rising crime rate, the breakup of the family, and the general decline of our culture, but they don’t realize the cause of it all is that they don’t value truth. Today tolerance is valued more than truth so it is a big mistake for us to think that unbelievers will race to church if we just proclaim, “We have the truth!” Their reaction will be, “Yeah, so does everybody else.” Proclaimers of truth don’t get much attention in a society that devalues truth. To overcome this, some preachers try to “Yell it like it is.” But preaching louder isn’t the solution.
While most unbelievers aren’t looking for truth, they are looking for relief. This gives us the opportunity to interest them in truth. I’ve found that when I teach a truth that relieves their pain or solves their problem, unbelievers say, “Thanks! What else is true in that book?” Sharing biblical principles that meet a need creates a hunger for more truth.
Very few of the people who came to Jesus were looking for truth; they were looking for relief. So Jesus would meet their felt need, whether it was leprosy, blindness, or a bent back. After their felt needs were met, they were always anxious to know how the truth about this man who had helped them with a problem they couldn’t solve.
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