Paul’s Nutshell Guide to the Gospel and Evangelism
Recently we’ve been watching the latest series of Race Across the World – teams racing across Canada with limited resources. It’s been heart-warming to witness the kindness of strangers, as people have unexpectedly been offered free food, shelter and transport. All the travellers needed to do to accept these generous offers, was to say “Yes”. Who would say “No” in their shoes? Their joy was a delight to behold.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” – Romans 1:16
Romans 1:16 is in some ways a summary of Paul’s whole letter to the Romans. The good news that he is proclaiming is that salvation (with the fullness of all that means) is available to everyone who says “Yes”. Growing up in a Christian household, it’s sometimes easy for me to forget how shocking this was at the time. No more earning your salvation. No more limits on who could accept the offer. This is shocking still.
Whilst I am (literally) eternally grateful for God’s amazing offer of salvation, there are at least a couple of uncomfortable challenges in this verse too. Firstly, do I act as though I’m ashamed of the gospel? In a culture which often says I should be ashamed, do I really take every opportunity to tell others the good news? Paul personally knew the risks of sharing the gospel. But he felt compelled to do so because of his overwhelming desire for others to know Jesus. He says there is no reason to be ashamed of such universal good news.
Secondly, do I limit those who might benefit from God’s grace? What about those who are not like me, or who I just don’t like? Those who don’t behave like me? Those who hold different views to me? Paul was writing to the almost exclusively gentile Christians in Rome (Claudius had banned Jews from Rome until shortly before this letter was written). The “Apostle to the Gentiles” was at pains to point out that salvation was still on offer to the Jews too. It’s available to everyone. We are all the same in Christ. We aspire to be generous and unconditional. Am I? Are you?
May we be bold in proclaiming the good news where we are and together share in the joy of all those who say “Yes” to Jesus.