Friday, June 6, 2008

In the Name of JESUS or In the Name of.....(jesus)

Bill and I were having a conversation the other day about evangelism and bringing the Kingdom of God down to earth. Now, if you don't consider yourself part of the Christian faith and you are reading this, you are going to think this is a ridiculous conversation. I may agree with you. But bear with us as we try to figure out what exactly it means to live for Jesus.

I suppose there are two sides you can fall on.

The first stating that acts of service do not have to be accompanied with proclaiming the name of Jesus. If someone is hurting, we help them, and God is pleased. Enough said. Done. Period. The things I like about this are we eliminate the "system and method" of evangelizing and get back to loving people. We don't see human souls as notches in our spiritual belt. We help them, because they need help. We simply, "love our neighbor as ourselves." In the words of an old friend, "Done and done." 

On the other side, we simply add that every good deed should be carried out under "the label" of Jesus Christ. We help the homeless or give someone a bed to sleep on, but we must do so in the name of Christ. In other words, somewhere in there we need to actually mention Jesus. Now, my generation has shied away from this approach, because (as in most things we do) we are reacting to the system of previous generations. We don't want to cram the Bible down anyone's throat, so we are trying to prove to society that we care. We are regaining the world's trust after decades of fire and brimstone. 
But, I have to say, I still can't dismiss this second model. Here's why...

We aren't the only ones doing good stuff! 

It's not like being a Christian suddenly turns you into the only person in the world serving others. There are a lot...a whole lot... of non-Christian organizations doing some really good stuff. Now, I think the Church should affirm them and join with them--not cross our arms and say, "THAT'S MY JOB!" 

But follow me here. In the past several years, we have returned to evangelism and outreach in being the main effort to grow the church, as opposed to big productions and shredding guitar solos. Hurray for us. But, if service is what we are using to show the world..."Look! See, we are Christians, and CHRISTIANS do GOOD things." Well, so do politicians. Somebody told me the other day that Jay-Z just built a well in Africa or someplace. 

So, what separates our service from the world's? The name of Jesus. He says that we will be blessed even if we "offer a cup of cold water," and he makes sure to include, "in My name." So, somewhere amidst the good deeds, do we need to return to some good-ol-fashion preachin'? Do we need to say, "Jesus loves you?" And what are the cons to proclaiming Jesus amidst the service? 

Now, I'm up for people disagreeing with me, because I think God is up in Heaven wishing I would turn my computer off and just go help somebody regardless. This isn't a salvation issue. 

But here, then I'm done. For the sake of conversation, this is my question:

Are we headed down a dangerous, non-fruit-bearing road by serving without proclaiming Christ. Or, are we doing good by regaining the world's trust by selfless deeds with no agenda attached?

Done and done. 


Blake Anthony said...

Taylor yes and yes. I agree totally. I am convinced that you need to teach this sometime to someone and not just here because that is a good point. Man I sound like a little old lady after church grabbing your right arm and talking really close. Just picture that and you might just laugh out loud. true and true. keep up the kingdom work brother.

Going Weston said...

First off all, Jay-z is a great Christian...he just says all that bad stuff to sell records.

Second of all, I've thought about this many times. I feel like meeting a need just to meet a need is at the heart of the matter. (please refer back to your post about Sin, and why a sin is a sin) Why are we doing a good deed, is it just to open up an opportunity to share the Gospel, or is there something more going on when we serve? something at the root, something Godly and metaphysical...

I think the only danger is when we start doing outreach or meeting needs and doing it "in Jesus' name" is the idea...but "Jesus" is replaced with the name of my Church, my name, or Christian.

I guess I feel like the motivation, the root of it, gets skewed.

bill said...

okay question...(by the way, this is me playing the devil's advocate more than anything)...what do you mean by evangelism?

i have a point...maybe Jay-Z and Angelina Jolie and the likes some weird way...evangelizing too, sharing the gospel story that Christ has come and set up His Kingdom on earth; a kingdom of hope and restoration and light. now, obviously the aren't sharing the whole story...but maybe they are sharing a part of it.

our approach should be much more wholistic, because we get the 'Jesus died for your sins' part, too. but maybe the point isn't to figure out what separates what we do from what others do.

maybe the point is really trying to be Jesus. i mean, that is "in my name" means...right? that we are his representatives; his ambassadors...that we are acting, in a sense, in his place; carrying out his mission.

as we do that, and relationships form, and at that point the conversation and verbal side of the whole deal comes in.

dude, i don't know. i'm just rambling here. i think its all contextual and situational. i don't think there is an easy universal answer. i think if we keep seeking God and asking these questions...i think His Spirit in us will let us know what to do in each of these situations.

i also think Jay-Z blows.

Betsy said...

i also just don't see how you can separate the Jesus from what you are doing if you are passionate enough about him to live your life serving others anyway. wouldn't it kind of exude from you as you were serving.

michaelCODY said...

I think you can be subtle if you don't want to proclaim "I am doing this in the name of Jesus!" For instance, I like helping people; whether it be listening, taking action, showing them something, etc..
and when I do, I try to suggest that they in turn help someone else when they feel the need is there. When we come together like that, Christ is there. We help one another grow that way. I don't necessarily always say, "I'm helping you out of the love of Christ and my heart" because that can scare some people.

People at my work, which some people see as a 'sin encouraging company' think I am a great guy; yet, it isn't until this past Christmas that after 5 years they actually realized I was a Christian. Because of this, I feel, I have reached more people thru this sort of ministry rather than exclaiming 'Jesus' after every good thing I try to do.

At the same time however, I certainly don't think we should hide our belief/faith from those we are trying to reach out to. Did I go off topic or does this make sense?