As Christians, we have an interest in evangelism. We cannot take our faith seriously and not have a vested interest in evangelism. Though not every Christian is called to be an evangelist, we are all called to be participants in the mission of God which means we support evangelism.
Yet for the most part, in America, our evangelism as Christians is one giant scandal. That’s right! Our evangelism is a scandal.
Lipscomb University Professor, Lee C. Camp, recently had his new book Who Is My Enemy?: Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam – and Themselves (see also his previous book Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World). I’ve not read the book yet so beyond what I’ve heard about the book, I can’t comment on its contents. I happen to know Camp (you can read more about that here) and know that he is a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Agree or disagree with him, Camp is trying to be genuine and faithful to Jesus Christ.
I’ve recently read a couple of posts with comments to follow regarding Camp’s new book. One from the blog of Scot McKnight and the other from Nashville newspaper The Tennessean. The fact that the book itself is a controversy says more about American Christianity and this is why we American Christians have an evangelistic scandal on our hands.
We American Christians have our prayers, hymns, and worship gatherings where we profess faith in God who has made himself known in Jesus Christ. We profess to be the people indwelled by the Holy Spirit as a promise of redemption (Eph 1.13-14), that is, victory over everything including the last enemy of death (cf. 1 Cor 15). We sing “My hope is built on nothing less than… On Christ the solid rock I stand…” yet… Yet our public rhetoric and action is consumed with nationalistic interests, believing that the nation is our source of freedom, peace, and security. Was the crucifixion of Jesus pointless (Col 1.20; 2.15)? Was Jesus’ own proclamation “Peace be with you” after his resurrection meaningless (Jn 20.19, 26)?
We cannot have it both ways. We cannot talk out of both sides of our mouth. We either believe in and live for one or the other. Mission conversations are consumed with the question of how can the church be evangelistic in an increasingly secular culture but how can the culture come to faith when we, the harbingers of that faith, demonstrate our own unbelief by allowing our faith to be continually co-opted by the values and interest of the nation.
Therein lies the evangelistic scandal. We want our neighbors to believe something which we no longer seem to believe in…at least not to the point of changing the way we live.
We American Christians need Jesus more than ever…to be converted to following Jesus ourselves once again! Come, Lord Jesus, so that we might believe once again!