When I was 16 years old, I joined a 6-month youth discipleship class which met every Saturday for the entire day to pray, study the Bible, memorize scripture and do various outreach projects. It was a long, tough class!
One of our “outreaches” was something I will never forget. We had to go to downtown Tacoma and join other churches in a anti-abortion protest. I hated every minute of this experience. It just didn’t feel right to me and the contrarian in me kept wondering, “how is this considered outreach?”.
While I always have and always will believe that abortion is not part of God’s plan for humanity, I’m also not proud of the fact that I once took part in protesting abortion, and the kind of witness I was for the women who walked in and out of that clinic.
In today’s culture, we see and hear the trending topic of “evangelicalism”…the “evangelical vote”…the “evangelical church” so often. Its come to the point where I’m certain too many Christians aren’t even sure what the word evangelical means anymore. Frankly…the word has been hijacked for political purposes and the Church faces a tough decision. Do we keep going along, or take the word back and start over?
The word evangelical is over 2000 years old and it means “good news”. When the early Christians confessed in their Roman occupied lands that Jesus is Lord, they were proclaiming good news! When the church feeds and takes care of the poor, this is good news! When churches rally together in their communities for the sake of unity, this is good news!
In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the gate. The gate by which his sheep have complete access to the Father. I believe this illustration is a crucial reminder for us today. Access to God has always been through Jesus. He is the gate…yet somehow too many Christians have positioned themselves to be the gatekeepers. Jesus never once taught that we are to be guardians. He taught us to be bringers and inviters!
This weekend, I will bring a close to our Trending series as we explore this complicated and sometimes controversial term – evangelical. We’ll look further into Jesus’s illustration of being the “gate” and ask ourselves…”have I become a gatekeeper?” “How can I take back this word evangelical so that my family, neighbor and community can once again see it as Good News?” I hope you’ll join us this weekend!
Grace and Peace.