Aldersgate Rally 2
‘Tell the world …’
WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you found a cure for cancer?
The Rev Duleep Fernando related how this question was posed by Dr Leslie Weatherhead, a famous British minister, to a congregation member devoted to research on cancer. Expecting the researcher to have plans for taking a holiday, celebrating with his family or marketing his cure, Dr Weatherhead was moved by the man’s reply: “I’ll tell the world.”
Speaking at the Aldersgate Rally 2 on May 26, the Rev Fernando pointed out how Christians have found the cure to a more dreaded disease than cancer – the disease of sin. “Yet, it is sad to see how many people are reluctant to tell the world about it.”
What motivated John Wesley and other missionaries to sacrifice comforts and even lives in their efforts to share the Gospel? The speaker shared three reasons: they wanted to obey the Great Commission of Jesus; they saw the fallen state of man without Christ; and they believed God had intervened in man’s lost condition and revealed Himself through Christ.
As He did for the first disciples, the Holy Spirit gives all Christians the courage and passion to share the Gospel, and gifts such as prophecy, healing, miracles and faith in order to do the work.
However, the Rev Fernando cautioned the congregation against desperately resorting to gimmicks or deception when no response is apparent. “It is the Spirit who opens closed doors, removes the scales from people’s eyes and helps them to see Jesus in all His glory, to see Him as their Saviour.”
He also acknowledged that the current context is very different from that of Jesus or Wesley. Thus, to proclaim the Gospel message in the same way as they did may make it irrelevant and stale, “scratching where it is not itching”.
“Though our methods change, the basic principles of proclaiming the Gospel to mankind remains the same,” he noted.
Firstly, authentic mission is incarnation, entering the world of other people in order to reach them. “God gave His message to us not in a DVD or audio tape. Instead, He sent His Son to be incarnate among us.”
This is why friendship evangelism is the most effective form of evangelism, with 70 per cent of converts having come to Christ through the testimony or invitation of a friend.
Secondly, our methods have to be holistic, meaning that evangelism and social action must go together, as people must both see and hear the love of Christ in action.
Finally, authentic mission involves the Cross, as suffering is essential for fruit. “How often we seek unnecessary extravagance, forgetting that millions of people are dying daily because they are so poor. The old saying ‘Live simply so that others may simply live’ is not just a cliché, but a living challenge to us.”
Are we willing to bear the cost to share the Gospel with others? Are we willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel? The Holy Spirit will help us as we witness to others and make the world our parish.