The Power of God Instead of the Power of Persuasion
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)
"The eternal security of millions of people depends upon you picking up the phone right now and making that gift...”
The radio pitchman making that claim and trying to persuade his listeners to give to the campaign to buy a bigger transmitter and reach more people for Christ likely had a good heart and righteous intentions – he simply wanted to raise money so that the Good News of Jesus can spread across a wider area and more people will hear the Gospel and more will get saved. It's all good, right?
But the truth is that it could be so much better! Instead of using the often-used worldly wisdom of guilting people into giving by making it sound as if they are responsible for someone going to heaven or not, he could have proclaimed that, “Jesus died for you and for me and for the whole world and we have been commanded to go and invite people to follow Christ! The Gospel is the power of God and a more powerful transmitter would be a great tool in the hands of God and His people! It will bring much glory to Him and many people to salvation and growth in the Lord.”
It may seem like a subtle difference, but it makes a huge change in how we think. In the first example, we are told that we have to step up and give because God is powerless and unable to reach those extra listeners in any other way except for through our providing a new transmitter. We are made to think that it is up to us to provide salvation for these people that haven't heard – the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the work of other Christians in that area, and the power of the Holy Spirit to intersect lives and bring people to salvation is totally ignored.
When we make our appeal based on the power of God, though, our thinking becomes more Biblical and Christ-centered. We remember that Jesus died not only for me but also for those who haven't heard. We recognize that saving the lost is not dependant upon our financial gifts but is up to a powerful God who has provided salvation in the cross of Christ. And He gives us the opportunity to partner with Him and other Christians to reach people all around the world with the message of Christ.
"Whether your circle of influence is a few friends or millions of people who follow you via the media, preach a powerful God who has brought salvation to the world and is still continuing to save people today and will save people in the future."
This might seem elementary, and many might rightly say, “Well, that radio pitchman probably talked about Jesus at other times and was just taking it for granted that his listeners know the Lord.” And that may be true. But do we want to take it for granted that people know Jesus? Do we want to take it for granted that people will overlook or correct our bad theology when we sacrifice truth for a good soundbite? Let's take the time to proclaim truth instead! Let's proclaim a powerful God who invites us to partner with Him! Let's talk about obedience to God and the Great Commission rather than laying a burden of guilt on those we are trying to persuade to give.
So then, whether your circle of influence is a few friends or millions of people who follow you via the media, preach a powerful God who has brought salvation to the world and is still continuing to save people today and will save people in the future. He is not dependent upon our financial gifts nor our eloquent preaching nor our fine-tuned organizations and programs. He is above all that and it is our great privilege to serve Him and even partner with Him in His efforts to win the world to Himself.
So serve Him with joy and gratitude in your heart, and invite others to do the same. Don't take on burdens that aren't yours but belong squarely upon the shoulders of the Almighty. And for God's sake, and for the sake of others, don't lay a burden of guilt upon people as you try to build your ministry or church or transmitter or whatever it is you are trying to do for God.
We serve an awesome and powerful God. Do everything by the grace and strength that He provides, giving Him all the glory for everything He does in you and through you.
Let's Pray Together:Father, I know that You are a powerful God whose ways and means are far above my own. Forgive me for those times when I have taken on more than You asked me to or have gotten out in front of You and caused hurt feelings or misunderstandings with others. Help me to rely on You and the strength and resources You provide rather than my own abilities and finances. I want to live for Your glory, giving You all the credit for everything good in me. I give you praise for everything You are doing in my life and ask for Your strength, provision, and help for the situations I bring before You now...(continue praying as you feel led)
Related Resources: Francis Chan -- Supernatural Church-- In this video Francis Chan compares the church of today to a tractor that people have to push along to get the work done. At some point the people of God have to read the owner’s manual and figure out how to run the tractor properly instead of pushing the tractor themselves. Christian Leaders: Is It Time to Cool the Hype? -- Short article that calls us to cut out the hype and be real or we won't be heard.
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