The gospel is good news for everyone – individuals, families, businesses, sports teams, cities, and nations. Wherever humans are and whatever we do, the gospel has something to say to us. It speaks to every area of life and every issue we face and struggle with in the twenty-first century: race, sexuality, gender identity, political practices, government, economics, you name it. The impact of the privatizing of the Christian faith has left a gap in the public discourse when it comes to truth. Christians have been excluded from any meaningful place at the table of critical dialogue and relegated to being chaplains. They offer vague and ambiguous prayers at the beginning of ceremonies or conferences and then politely and quietly leave the room. This was not the posture of the prophets in the Old Testament or the apostles in the New Testament. The apostle Paul sought earnestly to make his defense of the gospel in front of political leaders – even Caesar himself. His message was not about political reform and the need for social justice but to announce the message Christ had sent him to tell. When anyone receives this message as true knowledge, then a decision must be made about the best way to apply this truth. Though I believe that Christians should be involved in politics and government or any other vocation and calling in life, this is not a call to try and establish a Christian society from the top down. We are to be salt and light and trust that the truth of our beliefs will willingly and freely win hearts and minds.
This brings us to the obvious conclusion that the gospel must be clearly communicated to others. We are, indeed, to engage in respectful dialogue with unbelievers but not at the expense of proclamation. Because the gospel is news about events that have happened, we should be free to present the case for Christ and the evidence for the reality of His life, death, and resurrection. We have news to tell – that’s what the gospel means: good news. We are called to proclaim the events that happened and explain their meaning and implications for all humanity everywhere.
We must also be involved in ongoing dialogue to explain, defend, listen, and respond to the competing and opposing voices against this message. We can’t make the mistake of failing to engage in respectful dialogue after the claims of the gospel are presented or simply engage in dialogue without the definitive presentation of the historical events surrounding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This boldness to proclaim and enter into ongoing dialogue about the gospel and its implications on all of life is the ultimate test of whether we really believe it is true. About this, [theologian and missiologist] Lesslie Newbigin said:
To be willing so to publish them is the test of our real belief. In this sense missions are the test of our faith. We believe that the truth about the human story has been disclosed in the events which form the substance of the gospel. We believe, therefore, that these events are the real clue to the story of every person, for every human life is part of the whole human story and cannot be understood apart from that story. It follows that the test of our real belief is our readiness to share it with all peoples.
I am so grateful for those people who engaged me with the truth of the gospel during my third year of university studies. They were able to communicate truth without pretending to have all the answers. It was clear to me that following Jesus meant a lifetime of learning, growing, and changing. If nothing else, the gospel I heard brought me hope. Hope that life had a purpose – and, therefore, I had one as well. Most of all, I had hope of forgiveness and freedom from the grip of sin: pride, immorality, and fear. The gospel brings these blessings of freedom, forgiveness, and hope that can have a dramatic impact on the lives of those who receive them and their society as well. This is why we must not shrink back from bringing this truth to the public square. To do this we must clearly understand what it means to say “the gospel is public truth.”
Rice Broocks joins James and Betty on LIFE TODAY this Monday. Taken from The Human Right: To Know Jesus Christ & To Make Him Known by Rice Broocks. Copyright ©2018 Rice Broocks. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.