As I was walking home this week, I passed a group of three girls stopped on the sidewalk talking. I didn’t pay them much mind, other than to steer around them instead of plow through them. At the moment that I walked past, I overheard one of them say, “…Jesus died for your sins…”
And I cringed.
I have an aversion to street preachers and street evangelism. At least in America, I don’t think it’s the best way to tell people about Jesus and that it turns more people off to him than draw them to him. Plus, I was reminded of a cult on campus when I was in college that put extreme pressure on its members to do things like stand up in front of their physics classes and talk about Jesus. (Yes, I saw a girl I knew do this.)
Later in the week, I was doing my Bible study. One of the passages our group had decided to read this week was Philippians 1 and 2. And though I’ve read it many times, these words stood out afresh to me:
It’s true that some are preaching out of jealous and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. The preach because they love me, for they know that I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those other do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice.
I’ve marveled many times about how God could choose any method to spread his message of love, but he choose to use us weak, feeble, still-struggling-with-sin humans to do so. That seems somewhat like me telling my kindergarten kids about the quadratic equation, expecting them to go home and explain it to their parents.
It is possible that God’s message can be corrupted by us as we play telephone with it? Absolutely. But is his message more powerful than us messengers? Yes! I know this because I can see his power working in our lives still, when after 2000 years you would think we should have messed up the message irrevocably by now.
I don’t know what the situation was with those girls I passed earlier in the week. But God does. And I need to trust that his message of love IS powerful.