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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Clear

In the last few days we have shared some thoughts on the “E” word, Evangelism.  This morning a group of us were working through Colossians 4.  In verses 3 – 6 Paul gives a lot of instruction on this topic from two perspectives.
Paul asks for prayer to have an open door and be clear in the midst of the noise that was obscuring the gospel.  Good advice.
First in 3 – 4 he asks the Colossian believers to pray for his efforts in evangelism.  Note what he asks for
  • An open door for the gospel – an opportunity to share
  • That he may make the gospel clear.
What is the context here?  Remember in Chapter 2 Paul outlines the pressures that were engaged in the culture in competition with the gospel
  • 8 – Philosophy, deception, men’s traditions, elementary principles of the world
  • 16 – Ritualistic worship
  • 18 – Self-abasement, worship of angels, visions, intellectualism
It is a good thing that we do not have to deal with those things today, right?

With those things pressing in on him and competing for the attention of his audience he asks for a door and clarity.

Then he exhorts the Colossian believers to engage with those who are not of the faith and who are like Paul’s audience listening to the same messages.  He tells them to
  • 5 – conduct themselves with wisdom, to make the most of each opportunity
  • 6 – speak with grace, and respond to each person individually
There is a lot in these verses that guide us.  But the echo much that Paul says elsewhere.  We need to be about doing all that we do for the sake of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 21.

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts, Mike, and necessary meditation no matter where we are in our walk and work. So much we think about the Apostle Paul is limited to his vigorous, outspoken verbal proclamation of the Message - and that certainly was an examplary feature of his ministry.

    But, he also displays this sensitivity, both asking God for it himself and also commending it to the "ordinary" believers he loved with passion living day in and day out in their own relational networks at home, at their work, in their daily lives.

    Paul was crystal clear on the content of the Gospel, the "Good News" of what Christ had done for him and was available to all for free. His concern was "to make it clear," to take the Message and "get it across" in ways his hearers could understood and could accept or reject according to what God was doing in each one's life. If I can recall the maxim of communication I heard long ago, something like communication has not taken place unless the hearer understands the message.

    I think you implied, Mike, that the essential issues Paul faced in first century Greece are essentially the issues we face in twenty-first century (fill in the cultural setting). The difference is the "robes" the issues are wearing.

    I see two deadly errors we may fall into. On one side, we may so "adapt" the message to make it palatable (not just understandable) that the Life is squeezed out of it and there is no "Good News" that will bring about Life in the hearers.

    On the other side, we merely use words for concepts that are understood and very precious to us, but have no meaning to the hearer. IF I could read and pronounce N.T. Greek I could go out on the local downtown street at lunch hour and read John 3 to the people passing by. Extreme, but essentially what I have done in my evangelism many times in the past. If I understand the N.T. at all, to change the method of evangelism is not necessarily to change the content of the message as many seem to imply. We have freedom to adapt truth by method - as long as it remains truth.

    Paul's passion was, how do I make it understandable? Is that my passion?

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