Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On not hearing.

My temptation, whether in encounters in NYC/Chicago or in the five classrooms yesterday (20-60 students each, 20-30 minutes each) and the two mass evangelisms (one where I shared a brief testimony to 1700 high school students) was to construe the evangelistic distance as a rhetorical or discursive one, only. To attribute conversion to homiletical prowess, a keen understanding of the target human's condition and circumstance, an adequate grasp of the gospel, and thorough preparation.

But I'm not the Savior. And beyond those failures that we must rightly bear responsibility for, maybe we have domesticated the gospel, which takes a miracle to hear. I suggest that the nature of the gospel itself bears much responsibility for being incomprehensible. Edwards after all, great mind that he was perhaps knew and honored the gospel enough to be truly grateful and surprised when even one in Northampton had ears to hear and a heart to respond. He was genuinely taken aback and overjoyed when after seven years of faithful preaching, there suddenly stirred a revival. Does beg-pleading, like a used-car salesman, cheapen that field of buried treasure you would sell all your possessions to buy if you only knew its true worth? Desperation to be heard (at any cost) can swirl you into apostasy, as any idol pursued (at any cost). Today if they hear His voice, not mine--this is the evangelistic distance.

I guess my question, given that faith comes by hearing is, is it possible to hear, really hear, without conversion? I venture yes but that this is far less common than mmm... Well, Christ doesn't seem to count every seed among true hearers.

The temptation is to present the gospel as more accessible than it truly is, to offer false assurance, remove the offense––but also the power––of Christ's victory over death. Or to locate the solution only in my speech and performance, as though salvation were by works of man rather than confrontation with the person of Christ himself. Christ alone.

Holy Spirit, enable true preaching and evoke true hearing. True belief, true repentance, true religion. Risen Lord, continue to work out Easter in hearing hearts whenever the story is faithfully told.

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