This was a challenge put to me by my wife over the summer, could I lose some weight? If I'm honest it's something I knew I needed to do. I've tried before but had failed miserably.
However, this time I just felt I had to give it a real go.
With the help of a certain Internet search engine I found some tasty low calorie family meals. I took up the mantle of cooking the evening meal. Alongside this I returned to the gym, cut out a number of basics like bread, rice and pasta and started to try and eat a different kind of diet. As part of this and my dietary research I felt I needed to add some fish and a higher amount of protein. So a few weeks ago I embarked on a breakfast of smoked salmon and poached eggs.
As far as I was aware we didn't have a utensil to cook a poached egg and so, after boiling some water (don't worry this isn't a cookery lesson, I'm coming to a point!) I cracked two eggs straight
into the water, and after a few minutes served up two wonderful poached eggs.
This thought then struck me: Once I had cracked the eggs into the pan I had no control over how the eggs would turn out until it was time to lift the eggs from the pan, but I'd HAD to crack the egg shell to release the egg that was inside. This is just like the gospel, we have to tell it and proclaim it to release it, but once we have shared it we
have no control over how it is received - we just have the responsibility to share it.
If you mention the words 'gospel proclamation', for many people, the picture comes of a stage and an evangelist preaching to a reasonably sized crowd. However, gospel proclamation is not just about big crowds, the gospel can be, and needs to be, proclaimed to the individuals we come across in our daily lives.
The apostle Paul asks the question "How then shall they call on him whom they have not believed? How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10:14)
Now I can hear you cry 'but I'm not a preacher' - that's ok, not everybody is, however we have to get what I believe is a biblical foundational truth in our minds.
In simple terms it's this: You can't preach the gospel with your mouth shut!
That is to say, for the gospel to be heard and understood it has to be verbalised. This does not necessarily mean we will all be called to preach to big crowds, or that we become 'bible thumping Christians', but it does mean we have a responsibility to share the gospel sensitively, intentionally and verbally with those individuals God brings across our path.
In verse 15 of Romans 10, Paul asks another question: 'How shall they preach, except they are sent’ – the truth is we have all been sent. We are all given the task to share with others how Jesus has changed our lives. What a wonderful call we have – to proclaim life, truth and hope to the people we know!
Jesus sometimes spoke to big crowds, but on many occasions he spoke just with individuals. As an evangelist I've had the privilege of speaking to large crowds and seeing people respond to Jesus - but speaking to individuals is just as important. Each situation needs boldness, prayer, and help from the Holy Spirit.
Paul wasn’t talking to Timothy about ‘The seasons’ – you can preach the word during the winter and spring seasons, but that will probably wear you out and tire you out, so you can take the summer and autumn off! He was saying 'In season, out of season, it doesn't matter - I’m charging you to preach the word whenever you get chance! We always have to be ready ' in season, out of season' because we don't know when an opportunity will arise.
I believe the primary purpose of the church is to reach the lost with the gospel - to preach the word, wherever we can, to whoever we can, whichever way we can!
When it comes to evangelism and proclaiming the Gospel, either to one, one hundred, or one thousand, we will each fall into one of the categories I mentioned above:
1) We've tried the challenge - but given up because we've not seen the results we wanted and felt it's too much hard work
2) We've not engaged with the challenge - We've thought about sharing our faith, but just have never done it
3) We've risen to the Challenge - We actively engage in looking for ways to share our faith
If you are number three - be encouraged and keep going!
If you fall into the first two brackets - let me just encourage you. Sharing our faith was never meant to be a chore, but something that can bring glory to God as we step out in faith and tell others about Him. For certain, evangelism doesn't come without its challenges but with God's help, through the power of the Holy Spirit we can overcome those challenges, step out in boldness and share the gospel. If you've been struggling to tell others about Jesus, then just ask the Lord today to help and equip you to share the good news of the Gospel with others!
To get my poached egg the other week I had to literally crack the egg for it to be released from its shell so I could benefit from eating it. We have to literally speak out the Gospel for it to do its work. The gospel has to be spoken for it to be heard and acted upon. So, if one or two above applies to you, can I just encourage you to 'crack an egg' today and look for an opportunity to share Jesus with somebody?
Oh, and how's the weight loss going? It's going fine; it's working, just like the gospel does - so let's keep cracking those eggs!