Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Burden for the Lost

I have often heard that we ought to have a "burden for the lost." If I may be so bold, I believe that I have a burden for the lost, but when I say it, I believe that I mean something different than the average evangelical means when he says it. You can tell me if you find my burden to be more or less helpful.

Let me define what I believe most people mean when they say this. What they mean is that they feel sorry for lost people. They feel bad in the sense that they imagine that these people wish to live otherwise, but either have not had the opportunity to hear the gospel, or that they have not been sensible enough to accept it.

Mission work is often pushed through making the average church member feel guilty. This guilt is accomplished through selling the lie that there are literally "millions" of people who are "starving" to hear the gospel. The idea is purveyed that if someone showed up on their doorstep and shared the gospel, they would instantly believe. Until then, these lost people are thought to be miserable folks, in danger of perishing any moment and going pitifully into hell. And we could have prevented this tragedy if only we have given money, went to Africa, etc.!

The second part of this so-called burden relates to the fact that lost people haven't been "sensible" enough to accept Jesus as Savior. It is imagined that these people are either exceptionally wicked, selfish, and/or stubborn. They could get saved if they would just surrender and believe! There is truth to this, I confess. But it is a half-truth.

The truth is that the lost person is no more stubborn, selfish, and stubborn than the one sharing the message. You see, the saved person did not become a Christian because he was less selfish, stubborn, or selfish; he became a Christian because God resurrected him from spiritual death. If this second truth is not coupled with the first, evangelistic efforts become a prideful display of "Christian" condenscension. That is, we share the gospel to "lesser" people from our place of exaltation. We are Christians because we are better than you. Such a witness is an abomination.

Let me know if you think that this is an accurate assessment. Tomorrow, I plan on debunking this understanding of evangelistic burden, how it can lead to spiritual depression and disaster, and then demonstrating what I find to be a more compelling and realistic reason for evangelistic endeavor.

4 comments:

Daniel said...

God is pleased to give to the church some who share of God's own desire to bring in the flock.

These are not people who are filled with sorrow over the thought that people are slipping into hell - oh the horror, the horror!

Rather these are people who understand that Jesus died for sinners - and that the Glory of God demands that these sheep come into the fold - their love is for God first, and only secondly for those whom God has loved (if it were indeed possible to actually separate such loves from one another).

Not the humanistic endeavor of "feeling sorry" for those poor saps who are presently earning an afterlife appropriate to their current hard hearted and willful rejection of Christ - but the desire to see God glorified in bringing to glory whom Christ purchased with His own death. The love of God constraining them, as opposed to merely pitying men because they will be inheriting what they spent a lifetime zealously purchasing - eternity in hell.

So when I think of a burden, the burden is not for "the lost" so much as for the glory of the Lord.

Let us all rejoice in bringing in the sheaves!

Sojourner said...

Okay...so now I don't have to post the next in this series 'cause Daniel stole my thunder in the meta.:)

Even So... said...

Yep.

Daniel said...

It is only fair, you kept stealing all the orthodoxy thunder in my meta ;-)