“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16
Such is the opening of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, which one may argue it as the most complete letter when it comes to explaining God, Human Beings, Sin, Salvation, and Life as Christians. In the previous verse, Paul said that he was ‘eager to preach the gospel to [them] also who are in Rome.’ In fact, he was so eager to preach the gospel to everyone even to the point of imprisonment, persecution, and eventually, death. Why is that the case? Is it because Paul was a special apostle with special ability to preach the gospel that no others could? I don’t think so. There is never a hint that Paul did it because he was good at it. In fact, in 1 Corinthians, Paul said that he preached not with eloquent wisdom (1 Cor 1:17; 2:3), and he was in weakness, fear, and much trembling (1 Cor 2:3). Paul, however, was passionate about it simply because he truly believed that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
Now, of course, we have to clarify first: what is the gospel? The word gospel, in Greek ‘euangelion,’ basically means ‘great news.’ It is the same word used to announce the return of a triumphant royal army after defeating an enemy’s king or conquering an enemy’s city. The same word can perhaps be used also to announce that your favourite sport team or sportsman has just won a match or a championship. So, the gospel is basically news, great one, and because it is news, the gospel is then to be announced more than anything. The call is not for people to obey a set of rules, because that will be bad news. Rather, the call is for people to believe it and to live as if what’s announced has really happened.
Imagine your favourite football (soccer) team has just won the prestigious European Championship league, say for example the great Manchester United (3 times champion and 2 times runner up, just in case you are asking). The next morning, as you goes to your university or your office, you can hold your head high knowing that your team has won. You will rejoice, and you will not let anyone bully you, especially those fans of Arsenal (only one time runner up, just in case you are wondering). Why? It’s all because of great news. You did not do anything. You only watched it on the TV. Some of you did not even have the time to watch it, perhaps because you have a family with four kids, for example. You simply heard it as someone told you, and you take it as the truth, and live it out accordingly. The news is so ‘live-changing’ that it is worth spreading and celebrating.
When someone lived on earth perfectly, died a horrific death on the cross, and on the third day, rose again from the dead, that’s worth spreading. If that happened today, Facebook would be full of that news, and TV stations would not even bother showing other programs. Jesus claimed to be God, He claimed that He was the only way to be reconciled to God, and He made many other outrageous claims. Some believed and some didn’t. However, when He rose from the grave proving that He is the only one who could conquer death, whatever He said cannot be brushed off anymore. If someone rose from the dead and lived on, He would hold the key to life and death, and therefore He would hold the key to eternal life. That, my friend, would make headlines in every newspaper all over the world. That’s, I believe, how Paul saw the gospel of Jesus Christ, because that is exactly what it is. That’s why Paul was not ashamed of this news. That’s why Paul was so eager, was compelled, to see that everyone heard the news and accepted its liberating truth. That’s exactly why, my friend, if you call yourself a Christian, you have to be eager and compelled to do the same.
A Christian, by definition, is someone who has heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, believe in it, and has begun to live a new life in light of this truth. A Christian will be so gripped by God’s amazing grace in this great news, and by logical consequence, cannot help but tell others as they go. When Jesus gave us the mandate to make disciples of all nations, He did not ask us to be smart about it. He simply asked us to share the great news and to watch people’s lives change as they receive the gospel. The act of telling, proclaiming, or preaching this great news is what Christians call ‘Evangelizing’ which simply means making known this news to others.
However, time and time again, many Christians that I met would express that they do not do evangelism. They can live day to day without telling anyone about the gospel. If Manchester United won a Championship league (please forgive me, Arsenal fans), and if you are a devoted Manchester United fan, how can you not share this news out loud? How can you not tell your friends? How can you not have this in your Facebook post, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, everywhere basically? There are only a couple of reasons:
- You are not barracking for Manchester United (or you say you are, but you could not care less or are indifferent, which really means you are not – or not anymore), OR
- You don’t know the significance of Championship league.
So, applying this to us as Christians: if you call yourself a devoted follower of Jesus but you don’t find yourself sharing the great gospel to people as you go, there are perhaps a couple of reasons too:
- You are not a Christian (or you say you are, but you could not care less or are indifferent, which perhaps means that you really are not – or not anymore), OR
- You don’t understand the significance of the gospel.
Of course, it might not be as clean cut as that, and I am not so quick to judge that if you don’t share the gospel then you are not a Christian. There are many reasons that people give as to why they are not engaged in evangelism. We will look at some of those at the next post, and what we can do to liberate ourselves in such a way that we can be eager to proclaim the Great News.