Mission Insight 2

Missions Insight 2:  More People Are Willing To Listen To The Gospel Than We Think

I’m still working through all the things I learned while serving in Mexico, but one of the things I’m certain about is that more people are willing to listen to the Gospel than we Christians tend to believe.  Now to be clear, I don’t believe anyone “wants” to hear the Gospel outside of the work of Christ’s grace.  The Bible couldn’t be more clear about our total depravity resulting in our hatred of, and rebellion to God.

Romans 1:28-32  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

What I mean is that we greatly underestimate the common grace of God, in creating people who are naturally curious, inquisitive, and concerned about things of a spiritual nature.  After all, we are, believers and unbelievers alike, eternal, spiritual beings.  So it should come as no surprise that eternal, spiritual beings are interested in things relating to eternity and spirituality.  They may disagree with your opinion.  They may not like your opinion, but far more people are willing and interested in hearing your opinion regarding your faith than you are probably of aware of, and statistics agree.
A Lifeway Research poll, conducted in 2009, showed that over 50% of the people polled would be willing to receive information about Jesus from a family member or friend.  (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-03-25-baptist-evangelize_N.htm)
And in Thom Rainer’s book, The Unchurched Next Door, 6 out of 10 people who do not regularly attend worship, said they would be willing to accept an invitation to pick them up for church, or meet at the church, to attend a worship service.  This means that an invitation to worship, or an invitation to share your faith, is more likely to be welcomed than not.  So the statistics, in this instance, are in our favor.
Unfortunately, not all the statistics are in our favor.  Another recent study by Lifeway reports that 80% of the people who attend church regularly believe they have a personal responsibility to share the Gospel, but only 61% have done so in the last 6 months, and almost half (48%) said they have never invited someone to attend church, or a church event with them.  (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/08/31/study-most-churchgoers-never-share-the-gospel/)
So why the disparity in numbers?  Well we know one thing for sure, it’s not that they don’t know how to share the Gospel.  A full 75% of people polled said they felt comfortable sharing the Gospel.  By and large, our churches have done a good job training people to articulate their faith.  So what’s the problem?
I believe the problem is one of selfishness.  People are more concerned about their own reputation than they are for their coworkers/friends/neighbors.  I know this sounds harsh, but can you give me a better reason?  Can you explain to me why we ignore the Great Commission?  If we really do hold the answer to all the world’s problem (Christ) then why would we ever keep it to ourselves?  It can only be selfishness and the desire for comfort.  We simply do not wish to appear strange or unlikeable.  We do not want to create an “uncomfortable” atmosphere in our place of employment.  We see evidence of this in the study itself.  75% said they feel “comfortable” sharing their faith.  Here’s the problem:  God isn’t nearly as interested in your comfort as He is in your obedience.  I doubt the Apostle Paul was “comfortable” during much of his ministry.  He says he was…

2 Corinthians 11:23-27  …in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

And yet, through all of this he would say...

2 Corinthians 12:10  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

So I encourage you today; be strong in the Lord.  More people are willing to listen than you think.  Our needs, as eternal, spiritual beings, are evident in all of us by the work of God’s grace.  Would you tell someone about that grace today?