From time to time, a current event will reignite a cultural debate about the ethics of missionary activity. Many argue that any attempt to convince a person to change their religion constitutes the most egregious of social errors. They find it to be cruel, condescending, and arrogant. However, Christians usually have a simple response to these criticisms: Every person needs to hear about Jesus.
In Luke chapter 9, there is a key turning point in Jesus’s ministry (vv.18–20). After feeding the five thousand, Jesus asked His disciples what the crowds were saying about Him. The disciples responded by cycling through some of the more popular answers regarding His identity. This wasn’t hard for them to do, as rumors were no doubt circling among the crowds.
Then Jesus did something remarkable; He turned the casual conversation about what the crowds were saying into one that was intensely personal. “‘But you,’ he asked them, ‘who do you say that I am?’” Jesus took the conversation to an uncomfortable and awkward place, but it led to an important moment. “Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah’” (v.20).
Ultimately, every person must wrestle with the same question Jesus asked His disciples. The gospel makes a universal demand: to be saved, we must believe. Yet, it also makes a universally gracious offer: any person, regardless of background, race, gender, or socio-economic status, may be saved.
In Romans 10, Paul reminded the Roman church of the simplicity of the gospel; a person has only to believe (v.9). We do not have to untangle difficult creedal formulas or perform a series of progressively more difficult good works. Rather, God saves through simple faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).
Every person who believes in Jesus has the incredible privilege of knowing Him, of taking up the daily cross, of following Him into kingdom work God has established for us to do. We join in the task of ensuring that everyone has heard the message of the gospel. Jesus sends some around the world to share this message. He sends countless others into their neighborhoods, ball fields, gyms, schools, and grocery stores to love, befriend, serve, and share in Jesus’s name.
Today, let us join in this mission by praying that God would give us opportunities to share the good news. Let us live our lives with gospel intentionality, looking for ways to speak about the graciousness of our God and the gift of His Son.
Written by Scott Slayton