Note: I owe Pastor Matt Chandler in Dallas, Texas (who is currently recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor) in part for sparking the following idea taken from a message he shared this past summer (Preaching the Gospel to the De-Churched)

For those of us who have been awakened to the gospel narrative, it all makes more than good and perfect sense.  But consider how it must sound to someone who’s eyes haven’t been opened to the truth found only in the gospel… it’s what Paul was sort of getting at when he wrote “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God (1 Cor. 1:18, NLT).”   

Imagine for a moment that you don’t know the saving grace of our Lord Jesus and ask a friend to explain the gospel and he says “Well, it starts with a virgin named Mary.  She was visited by an angel and told she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and to name him Jesus.  He’s then born in a stable with barn animals and laid in a feeding trough (a “manger” you might call it) instead of a crib for what was a pretty humble inaugural welcome to earth for the infant prophesied to be the Messiah.  He’s raised in a wood shop, the son of a carpenter named Joseph (but not biologically his father because his mom was a virgin).  At about 30 years of age Jesus is baptized in a river by his crazy cousin John (who eats locusts and honey and lives in the wild), signaling the beginning of his life work which would culminate about three short years later.  He then set out to recruit what we call his twelve disciples.  They end up traveling from village to hillside to everywhere in between listening to Jesus preach and also witness him doing all sorts of miracles from healing a woman who’d been hemorrhaging blood for twelve years and had seen every physician in town (after she merely touched the hem of his garment), feeding 5000 with some little boys lunch, and then there’s the ladies who pled with Jesus to come and heal their brother but he’s a couple days too late so instead he raises the stiff corpse from the dead. 

…Eventually, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day get so agitated with Jesus (who they saw as a trouble maker, they thought of themselves as pretty righteous guys) that they devised a plan to trap him and subsequently have him crucified on a cross as a hardcore criminal beside two others even though he was anything but a law breaker (he lived the only sinless and righteous life in all of history).  I believe all of this and I also put my hope in the reality that Jesus laid his life down voluntarily for rebel sinners like me because it was necessary and he loved us enough to suffer and be shamed like that in our place. In addition, after they buried Jesus, he rose from the dead a couple days later and re-appeared to his disciples and many others before he up and ascended into heaven forty days later.  Oh yeah, and he’s coming back on a white horse to get us one day.  What do you think dude, does any of that make sense?” 

If I didn’t know any better I’d say it’s foolishness myself.    

The next time you share the gospel, remember that unless God in his mercy opens the eyes of and grants a repentant heart to the sinner you are speaking with, the gospel is sure as the sun came up this morning to be seen as folly.

Thoughts?

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