Let's Break This Tradition

by Glen Penton

I'll recommend an experiment for you:
Watch some preachers and/or Messianic rabbis
without listening to their words.
What kind of body language do you see?
What does their tone of voice say?
In your opinion are people usually attracted to an idea
when they hear that tone of voice?

If we are to be wise and loving,
we must give careful attention to both:
our message and how we present it.
Those who are motivated by a profit motive
are very careful to express their message clearly
(whether the message is truthful or not)
to package it attractively.
They would not dare to be as abrasive as many of us are.
Could it be because they love their god
more than we love ours?

In the old days, there were no electronic sound systems. Public speaking necessitated screaming at an audience. No matter how tender your message, you had to scream every word. When audiences were mostly illiterate farmers who had a tendency to go to sleep whenever they sat still a few minutes, a loud volume was convenient for keeping the audience awake. Today, a pastor or rabbi screaming at an audience makes the three-year-old behind me whisper, "Wow, God is really mad today! Let's get out of here."

Our prophets and shelichim (apostles), and certainly our Messiah, upset some people when they gave God's message in earlier times. I don't get the impression from Scripture that the offense involved an obnoxious, condemning attitude. I don't see the world persecuting them for being racists or hate-mongers. The self-righteous and oppressive found God's message dangerous and sought to kill the messengers. The common people heard them gladly. That's the opposite of what happens when many of today's preachers and Messianic rabbis hold forth.

A common slogan among the "fighting fundies" is
that we can't be held responsible for what affect the truth has on people,
that our only responsibility is to proclaim the Message.
"Let the chips fall where they may," say some.
Such irresponsibility is not biblical at all.
Rav Sha'ul wrote by Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit),
"Messiah's love motivates us."

Yeshua does want us to share His Truth with people.
He did give us the so-called "Great Commission."
But He didn't call it the Great Commission.
It was not in response to the question,
"What is the greatest commandment?"
His answer to that question may be the real Great Commission.
My point is that the biblical emphasis is love rather than evangelism.
We evangelize because we love people and want them to be saved,
not because we get some perverse joy
out of calling people damned, hell-bound sinners.
Most people can tell the difference.
I suspect that is a lot of why the Western world is paganizing.
The pagans are nicer.

Some abrasive people present the Gospel
and say they love Yeshua and their fellow-humans with all their heart
and are purely motivated
and that makes their nasty attitude all right.
The human heart sure is wicked and deceitful,
even in the best of us, isn't it?
We all need to accept God's word for it,
that being insulting, abusive, and unkind is sin.
And sinning in God's Name is doubly sinful.

Love and wisdom go together.
An undershepherd who loves the part of God's flock entrusted to him
will study them carefully,
and learn how to communicate well with them.
Someone else's methods won't work for you,
although the principles may be exactly the same.
Nothing against King Saul's armour.
It just isn't right for David.

What about the vast majority of Christians and Messianic Jews, who learn to evangelize (if they learn it at all) by imitating the words and actions of their spiritual leader? But usually those who preach do not really want people to talk that way about the Gospel to their co-workers over lunch! When preachers use their pulpits to make fun of people and attack them (rather than humbly communicating God's holiness before which we are all guilty), is it any wonder that some of their parishioners repeat those memorably sarcastic barbs on Monday to a less appreciative audience?

People do need to know that they are sinners,
once they know Who God is,
and that He created them and loves them.
The Ten Commandments are an excellent evangelistic tool
when people need to know for themselves
"the exceeding sinfulness of sin."
It can be shown quietly, in love and sorrow.

Don't let the self-righteous confuse your thinking.
Hasatan has indeed done much harm
by fooling some believers
into hiding from people
some of the less pleasant aspects of the Gospel.
But he has done far more harm
by motivating others to express the Good News of God's Love
in a hateful manner.
Let's break that tradition.

more about God's love for sinners
more about sin
more about redemption
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