Monday, November 5, 2012

Speaking of Jesus

"Speaking of Jesus: the Art of Non-Evangelism" by Carl Medearis is definitely one of my new favorite books of all time and definitely my favorite of 2012. A great call to make my life and ministry speak of Jesus, not about Jesus or anything else. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Because we’re Christians, we unfortunately feel we have to own up to Christendom. We believe that we are responsible for the entire history of Christian faith and that it’s our job to explain everything.” 39

“In my experience, sharing Jesus is not all that difficult, even in a hostile environment. I don’t tell people that they’re sinning and that they’re going to go to hell unless they believe what I believe. I just talk about Jesus. If, on the other hand, we believe that the gospel is a systematic explanation of Christianity, we have to own up to all the faults and failures of Christian history, while convincing people that Christianity really is better than whatever they believe.” 46-47

“I believe that the gospel and the religion of Christianity can be two different messages. Even opposed on some points. When we preach Christianity, we have to own it. When we preach Jesus, we don’t have to own anything. Jesus owns us. We don’t have to defend Him. We don’t even have to explain Him. All we have to do is point with our fingers, like the blind man in the book of John, and say, “There is Jesus. All I know is that He touched me, and where I was once blind, now I see.” 47-48

“We have to open our eyes to the possibility that we’re preaching the wrong message. We’re busy trying to find the boundary line that separates the saved from the unsaved and trying to bring people across that boundary by convincing them to think like we do. Here in the West, reason is king. We have doctrines and apologetics and really nifty devices to solidify the right thoughts. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not relevant.” 48

“I don’t want to redefine salvation. I don’t want to redefine the gospel or even Christianity on the whole. I suppose I want to undefined them. I want to strip away the thousands of years of graffiti painted onto the gospel, turning it into a reasonable code of doctrines. The gospel is not an idea. It is not a belief. It is not a favorite verse. The gospel does not live in your church, it cannot be written down in a simple message, and it is not the sinner’s prayer. The gospel is not a what. It is not a how. The gospel is a Who. The gospel is literally the good news of Jesus. Jesus is the gospel.” 48-49

“…The gospel lies in the person of Jesus, that he himself is the Good News, that my one task was to live and to present him. My task was simplified.” 55

“What if we were to take Jesus at His word --- “I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32 NKJV)? What if our complicated explanations are wrong, not because they are incorrect, but because they do not constitute the person of Jesus?” 55

“The gospel is not a debate or a list of things to believe. The gospel is a person. Jesus Christ is the gospel. He is the truth. He is the point. He embodies all of the salvation/redemption/forgiveness/freedom stuff Himself, and because He is a personality, He does not require doctrinal mastery to connect with an individual.” 56

When we stand inside the circle, trying to get people “into the kingdom,” we mistakenly do two things wrong. First, we try to “download” the right definitions, doctrines, and beliefs into the brains of people who don’t know the apostle Peter from Homer Simpson. By doing that, we communicate that having the right thoughts is the means of salvation. We’re telling them that it’s the stuff that happens between their ears that matters. When we focus on theology, we’re not touching thirsty hearts. Thirsty people don’t want to memorize theology any more than they want to learn a new language. 67

This is not a case of Paul versus Jesus. They’re not in any kind of doctrinal debate against each other. If Paul and you and I sat down today for a cup of coffee, Paul would talk about one thing above all. He would talk about Jesus. If Paul could make one exhortation to today’s church, he might simply plead with it to stick close to Jesus. 83

If you want to get to know Jesus, the actual person, then read the four Gospels. Read them until they become part of you. Eat and breathe them. 88

…The Word became flesh and lived with us. And now dwells in us. All of the Bible is helpful, but it is a signpost to the ultimate Word of God –Jesus the Christ. We do not follow the Bible. We don’t worship the Bible. We love it because it directs us toward the One who is everything. So while all the Bible is God’s  Word, it is not all equal in weight. 88

I don’t have to defend or understand everything in the Bible in order to share my faith. Jesus is the point of the Bible. It all points to Him. I don’t have to be the Bible’s defense attorney. All I have to do is speak of Jesus and He will draw people to Himself. 89 

We know Jesus by practicing acting like him. I’m not really that good at being like him, so I act like him. 91

If you don’t feel like you have to evangelize someone away from their team and onto yours, you can speak of Jesus much more freely, and thus, more effectively. 103

There is no score, or at least, we don’t know what the score is. There are sheep and goats, but we’ve admitted we sometimes confuse the two…This doesn’t mean they aren’t what they are, it just means we may not as good at knowing the difference as we once thought. 103

Relax. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy their company along with the company of Jesus. Point Him out, freely, without fear or intimidation. You’re not responsible to sell Him to them. You’re simply saying what you’ve seen. You’re not the judge. You’re the witness. 105

The ones who had ears to hear Jesus typically were the hurting, the broken, the desperate. 110

Jesus loved the humility of those who understood they needed help. 114

Where we go terribly off course is when we lead a conversation with doctrine rather than Jesus Himself. 115

The conservative movement here in the West often tries to embrace the moral code of Christianity without the self-sacrificial teachings of Jesus. 148

We in the West have often adopted what I call the “fortress mentality,” which says it’s okay to oppose other people out of self-preservation. If Jesus had done that, we’d be in trouble. 150