When You Remove Jesus

I just finished Bill Easum’s book A Second Resurrection for probably the 4th time.  I told my friend Tom last week that I needed to read it again.  If I could sum it up in one sentence, it would be, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus”.  Easum says that the difference between thriving churches and struggling churches is how they view Jesus.

He continues by saying that when we dilute who Jesus was and is, when we look upon Him as “a way” and not “The Way”, then we are no longer focused on people’s salvation, but instead focus on issues like health, education, good works, or morals.  Some people in the church have forgotten who Jesus is.  Or we’re so politically correct that we are worried about offending others.  Some in the church are trying to do good and worthwhile things, and have good intentions, but their mission is not about saving souls from an eternity without God.  Our primary concern must be eternity.  You know nothing about me or the church I lead if you think I’m not into doing good works.  I believe we can help people get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God here on earth by the actions of the church.  But as Easum says, “Jesus must be the center of our passion, not some generic notion of God.”

The church must believe that no matter what kind of difference we can make in people’s lives – feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, building water wells in Africa (and we should do all these things), without Jesus people are going to perish anyhow.  Whether they die now because of dirty water, or later because we’ve given them clean well water to extend their earthly lives, it’s irrelevant if they die without Jesus.   So what if we make their life here a little better for this blip of time and they spend eternity away from God because we were only concerned about getting them a well or feeding them?  Have we really done them a favor if we don’t witness to them about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, the only Son of God, and the Only way to the Father?  If we don’t tell them that one day, at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord?

I enjoyed these quotes from a 2001 article on the UMC General Board of Global Ministries web site.  We don’t hear enough of this attitude in much of our outreach:

“Mission without evangelism has neither heart nor life…” ~ Dana Robert, in Evangelism as the Heart of Mission.

“Offer Them Christ,” without apology, so that “we shall never have to say that we are sorry for not having offered them Christ.”  ~ Dr. Randolph Nugent, General Secretary of the GBGM.

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