Summary: Jesus modeled and taught an evangelistic strategy of combining the Great Commandment with the Great Commission.
In his book, Building a Contagious Church, Mark Mittleberg asks us to join him in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. As you walk up to the large arena, you see a mass of young people in line for a concert. The headline act is shock-rockeer Marilyn Manson (named after Marilyn Monroe and mass murderer Charles Manson and bills himself as the “Anti-Christ Superstar”). The crowd is noisy and energetic, ready to see a show that most, if not all of us would not even consider attending, to say the least.
As you get closer, you notice a group of people engaging the concertgoers in lively discussion. The protesters are Christians with signs expressing their disapproval of Marilyn Manson and all those who would attend the concert. These zealous protesters are yelling at the crowd, and the Manson fans are shouting back with equal intensity. Though no physical blows are exchanged across the battle lines, a steady barrage of verbal missiles and assaults are launched back and forth. Obviously there is a significant disconnect between the two groups.
Soon another group of Christians enter the mix. It’s a band of 19-29 year olds from a ministry called “the gro-ups”, sponsored by Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center, Michigan. They unload bags of ice, coolers, and cases of Mountain Dew. They walk up to the pulsating crowd of anxious rockers and begin giving away soft drinks. No signs condemning anyone, no strings attached—just free drinks, a smile and a sincere, “Have a good evening.”
Some of the people going to the concert simply accepted the free drink and moved on. Others say thank you and asked “Why are you doing this?” The answer was simple with not shame or guilt attached, “We love God and we love you!” Some snickered and walked away. Others lingered and talked a bit. One young man begins to interact more deeply and even decides to throw away his ticket and help the members of “gro-ups” hand out more drinks! Out of this simple act of service, lives were touched and the love of Jesus was communicated to people who might have no other positive contact with Christians. There was an obvious connection between the two groups.
As Christians, what will we be remembered for? As a Church, what will we be known for?
People usually connect great man and women with one great ideal, invention, achievement or cause. Mention the name of Lincoln, and most people will say, “freed the slaves”. Mention George Washington and you’ll hear, “father of our country”. Mention Margaret Thatcher and you’ll hear “Prime Minister of Great Britain” or Emila Earheart, “Great woman aviator”. Likewise, mention ministries like World Vision, Compassion International, and Samaritan’s Purse and you’ll hear words like love, compassion, and Jesus Christ.
What they did reflected who they were! As Christians, what will we be remembered for? As a Church, what will we be known for?
Imagine Jesus going into towns and villages during His public ministry and proclaiming without accompanying acts of healing and helping. Do you think our Savior would have gained much of a hearing or established the credibility of His message—without display in some proof that this gospel was real?
So why would we ignore such a model? It is the example Jesus modeled and the model He gave to His disciples
1When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:1-2
The gospel means the combination of the good news with good deeds. It is two-sided—it’s connecting truth and proof! It’s connecting show and tell!
One of the great dangers of the church is that because of fear, we have lost our desire to minister in concrete action as we seek to share God’s Word. Much evangelism today is like guerilla warfare tactics that venture in for a quick strike and then retreat back to the safety of the church. Or in the case of the Marilyn Manson concert, some just launch Gospel bombs over the picket line.
Now I know that some of these things can be a little scary, But Jesus tells us:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
When Jesus sent out His disciples, they were to trust God’s care and become directly engaged with those whom they were ministering. Instead of guerilla tactics or lobbing bombs, they connected others with God’s love by combining Jesus’ Great Commandment with His Great Commission, of showing and telling!
But why does Jesus use this model truth and proof? Why does Jesus apply this elementary model of show and tell?