How to Become the Good News Person You’re Meant to Be
- Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Lance Ford’s new book Revangelical: Becoming the Good News People We’re Meant to Be (Tyndale, 2014).
The word “evangelical” means someone who brings good news. But in American culture today, that word is bad news to many people, who view evangelical Christians as judgmental, bigoted, mean, and angry. Too often, evangelicals lecture others on the right beliefs without showing others how God – the source of all love – is at work through their lives. They preach at people without building relationships with them. They’re known primarily for negative opinions: what they’re against rather than what they’re for. Then evangelicals wonder why people don’t respond well to the Gospel (“good news”) message they communicate.
You can be the kind of evangelical that Jesus Christ intends: Someone whose life truly communicates the good news of the Gospel, inspiring others to seek God. Here’s how:
Replace the “avoiding hell” Gospel with the “kingdom of heaven” Gospel. Instead of reducing the Gospel message down only to letting sinful people know how they can avoid hell, embrace the Gospel in its entirety so you can show people how the kingdom of heaven is at work around them right now – and inspire them to join that kingdom. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh perspective on the Gospel so you can see that it’s much more than just a plan of salvation for the afterlife; it’s a message that should affect the way you live every part of your life here and now.
Cast out fear with love. Ask God to give you his perfect love to cast fear out of your mind when you think about non-Christian people. Replace an “us versus them” mentality that pits Christians like you against nonbelievers with an attitude that recognizes that we’re all sinners and God loves everyone completely and unconditionally. Instead of focusing on how you can protect yourself and your family from other people who are ungodly, focus on how you can reach out to ungodly people with love that inspires them to change.
Seek to live your life as Jesus would live if he were you. Evaluate your worldviews, attitudes, and actions against those you seek Jesus demonstrating in the Bible. When you see differences, confess and repent of the ways that you’re failing to represent Jesus accurately to other people. Moving forward, embrace what Jesus embraces and put away what he scorns so you can build your life around Jesus’ values – decision by decision – and grow to be more like Jesus.
Recommit yourself to your primary identity. If you’ve allowed your identity as an American citizen to overtake your focus on your primary identity (as a citizen of God’s kingdom), reorient your life so you’re basing your decisions only on how Jesus leads you – rather than on your cultural or political ideals. Stop categorizing people according to anything less than their identities as God’s children.
Build friendships with people whose viewpoints and lifestyles differ from yours. Don’t make snide or belittling comments – either in person, or online – about people with whom you disagree, such as Muslims, homosexuals, and abortion rights campaigners. Keep in mind that Jesus would speak of every person with kindness, not meanness. Rather than isolating yourself from people who differ from you, reach out to get to know them better and seek to understand their opinions. Spend time with these “others” whom you meet at work and in your neighborhood. Share meals, entertainment, hobbies, and sporting events with them. Listen and learn from them. In the process, you can show them the reality of Jesus’ love working through you, if you relate to them with no other agenda than simply being their friend.
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