"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words." -St. Francis of Assisi
Maybe one day in glory St. Francis and I will get to have a chat about this quote attributed to him. It's a lovely expression, although many historians assert he, in fact, was never the author.
In modern evangelical circles this string of words is often the backbone for the idea of 'living the Gospel.' It troubles me when ideas and good thoughts become the basis of whole philosophies of ministry and models of evangelism. Those philosophies and models should be fueled by scripture alone.
In light of my own recent self-examination, I wanted to give a testimony of
Why I don't live the Gospel.
I'm Never Asked To.
Scripture never asks me to live the Gospel. For that I am ever grateful.
Scripture asks me to
- Preach/Proclaim the Gospel (Mark 16:15, among many others)
- Live a Life Worthy of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27)
I'm Not Able To.
The Gospel, euaggelion in the Greek, is NEWS. It is in its most organic essence a verbal being. It is a message. And it is not about the way I live my life, it is completely about the life of another, the person of Jesus Christ.
If it were possible for me to live the Gospel, why in the world would Christ have to die for it?
Am I power? Am I the power of God unto salvation? Indeed I am filled with the Holy Ghost and am filled with His power as I keep in step with Him, but I wholeheartedly say that my life, however well lived, is not the saving power of God that is the hope of all men. (Romans 1:16)
I Delay The Advancement And Fulfillment Of The Kingdom Of God If I Do.
If I choose to 'live the Gospel' and deny the necessity of proclaiming it, I hinder the advancement and fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.
In Matthew and Mark, Christ's words tell us that the Gospel will be first preached to all nations before His return and the fulfillment of His reign. The proclamation of the Gospel speeds and ushers in the return of my King.
Everyday I witness the utter depravity of mankind in the neighborhood where I am privileged to minister. Everyday I witness the utter depravity of creation in the wind-struck neighborhood where I am privileged to live. And my heart cries, "Maranatha!" I want to go home.
I am a woman in her ninth month of spiritual pregnancy. I am ready for the fullness of the pain and the fullness of joy that will come in the final birth - the revelation of the sons and daughters of God. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.
And because of this yearning, with Paul I make this request:
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:18-20