Some days are spent in the office for 10 hours working on social media and writing website copy. Others are spent out among the people of Johannesburg, loving and serving however we are needed.
Both are incredibly important.
One may not seem to be as rewarding to some, but it is what got me here. I am here to tell the stories of what God is doing on this continent. The other is simply a bonus. I’m blessed to get to love on nationals and I am equally blessed to get to tell others how God is being glorified here. I am eternally grateful for both aspects of this time in my life.
As I’ve been out among the people, I’ve noticed something about myself. Well, more than just something – a lot of things.
In my conversations with nationals I have found that I tend to shrink back a bit from speaking the truth. I’ve realized this is because I feel sorry for these people. Most of the people I come across are living in poverty, dying of AIDS, and, worst of all, dying without Christ. I look at them as hopeless people in need of so much, and I want to tell them only the good things about God. Well, what selfish humans see as the “good parts” – that He loves them and wants to pick them up and carry them through the trials of life unharmed.
But I am reminded on a daily basis that the Gospel is offensive.
I cannot forget that God is also holy and righteous. That man is sinful and cannot come near to Him. That God will put us smack dab in the middle of the storm – for His glory and our good. That He allows difficulties. That, although it may seem difficult now, the beauty of God is that He sent His Spirit to walk with us through such difficulties.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
We are powerless, ungodly sinners who need a Savior.
There is nothing good about us without Christ.
This is offensive.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
It is offensive because we cannot earn His grace, and we are often too prideful to admit that we need it. We did nothing to deserve it so we must come to Christ as charity cases. As beggars. And this means lowering ourselves and laying aside our pride.
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9
I am often convicted because my first instinct is to try not to injure a person’s pride to tell them the truth of Christ. When, the truth is, God’s act of mercy and love on the cross injures my pride daily. Because, as Ephesians says, I cannot boast in His gift. I was worthless and ungodly and yet He still died for me.
I am an ambassador of Christ, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians, and I carry with me the wonderful news of reconciliation with God. The reason it is wonderful news is because we are separated from a holy God because of OUR horrible sin. If I do not teach sin and man’s need for Christ, then His death and resurrection was pointless.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:14
That being said, will you pray for boldness as I speak with nationals? And would you pray that I not give into the temptation to shrink back from the hard truth of man’s need of a Savior?
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13