FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
WOE TO US!
February 5, 2012
Today’s reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
We as Christians are all called to be evangelizers. The commission given by Jesus to his disciples right before he ascended into heaven is the very same marching order given to us. Further, as CFC-FFL, we have an even greater responsibility for evangelization, since that is the very reason for our existence. We are an evangelistic and missionary community.
The posture of Paul should be our posture as well. “If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” (1 Cor 9:16). To be an evangelizer is an obligation imposed by God Himself. It is not a special calling or a special privilege that we can boast about. In fact, if we do not preach the gospel, then woe to us!
Why is that? It is because the most important thing for people in the world is to know Jesus and his salvation, so that they might make it to heaven. It is about the eternal destination of their souls. Now important as that is, God has entrusted to His people the task of proclaiming that good news. God has made Himself dependent upon us. God has done everything needed to be done, at the price of His own Son’s blood, to redeem the world, but now He has designated us as His instruments by which that salvation is known. If we do not do our task, that would be among the most serious sins of omission. Thus, woe to such a one.
How do we treat this wonderful privilege of being an evangelizer?
First, we “have been entrusted with a stewardship.” (1 Cor 9:17b). We have been made stewards of this great treasure, the good news of salvation in Jesus. Such salvation, achieved by God made man, with atonement by a pure lamb for the sins of others, is a great mystery. So is entrustment of the proclamation of this gift to mere sinful humans also a great mystery. But God does indeed work in mysterious ways. “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor 4:1).
Second, when we “preach, (we) offer the gospel free of charge” (1 Cor 9:18b). Salvation is a free gift. Jesus paid the price for our salvation. On our part, we give of all that we are–our time, talent and resources–in order that this salvation might be preached to the ends of the earth. The gift we have received, we give as a gift.
Third, in order to reach all, we must “become all things to all, to save at least some.” (1 Cor 9:22b). Paul made himself like a slave, like a Jew, like a Gentile (1 Cor 9:19-21), in order “to win over as many as possible.” (1 Cor 9:19c). We evangelize our relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others. These are different people with different personalities, socio-economic status, politics, ambitions, problems, etc. We need to see who they are, where they are at, where they are coming from, in order that we might appeal to their particular need in relation to the gospel. We do not just have a single approach. Depending on whom we are evangelizing, we might speak about Christ or not speak right off about Christ at all. We might quote the Bible or not at all. We might share about marital relationships, handling children, facing difficulties, getting over a loss, etc. We might not look to problems but to the joys of Christian life–sharing about music, good company, vibrant fellowship, and so on.
Finally, we must not become complacent because we have been evangelized, have accepted Christ, and are now living a life in him. After meeting Christ and now living Christ, we must also share Christ. If we do not, then we are among those who scatter rather than gather. If we scatter, then we might still be counted among those who are against Christ rather than with him. If so, then woe to us! So we need to live our life “for the sake of the gospel, so that (we) too may have a share in it.” (1 Cor 9:23).
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