Both the space and the tolerance to speak the truths of God into the mounting chaos of the 21st century seems to be rapidly diminishing. Clearly, there is a formidable wave of mounting dissent that opposes God with an ever-accelerating intensity. And in facing such a foreboding reality, how do we speak the saving truth of the Gospel into our culture in a way that the message can vigorously slice through the very opposition that stands against the very faith that we are articulating? How do we articulate the message of the Gospel in a way that its voice is raised above the clamor that would otherwise smash it silent?
It’s not about changing the message, for the message was handed to us complete in every way. Rather, it’s about understanding both the audience and the cultural climate to which we are delivering the message, and subsequently articulating the message to effectively catch the ears and change the hearts of both.
In working with the many people that I am privileged to work with, I have wrestled with these questions. And along the way, I have authored a number of quotes that embody principles and perspectives that have served me well in gaining an ear for the Gospel. I have included a selection of these quotes in this article out of the hope that they might be of service to you as you seek to lift high the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a world that is bent on shutting Him down.
Words for the Times:
“If I have relegated God to a fantasy born of frightened men ill-suited to face life, I would suggest that this is far more the story of frightened men who wish God to be a fantasy because they are ill-suited to face Him.”
“Are we so gleefully enraptured with our own greed that we think it wise to banish God to the barest fringes of our existence? For I would surmise that if we are that impoverished, we deserve the destruction that such impoverishment will rain upon us. And in the rain, I must tell you that I will not flee to the fringes to which we have banished God in order to find shelter in His embrace. Rather, I will pray Him into the middle of the rain so that all of us will suddenly find ourselves sheltered from the rain that we had created by the God that we had banished. For such is the character of this God.”
“When I find a man sold out to God, I have found a rare thing. And I have discovered that God is in the business of creating rare things, of which I someday hope to be one so that I might help you become one as well.”
“I have sat in the impossible places that existed leagues beyond the reach of the prose of men, the touch of friends, and the encouragement of family. And in these horribly famished places where hope languished and desperation ruled, I eventually fell to exhaustion and laid my life in the frigid embrace of an awaiting death only to find that instead I had fallen into the warm hands of a loving God. And while these words are the prose of yet another man, the hands that they speak of are not.”
“There is no depth that exceeds the reach of the God who is, at this very moment, seeking you out in the holes that you have dug for yourself.”
“I can tell you that God has repeatedly ‘raised me up’ in the middle of the innumerable situations where ‘up’ had become a hope lost in the darkness of the places to which I had fallen. And while that is the miracle of my story, it sits waiting to be the reality of yours.”
“The only ethics that will effectively guide mankind are those that mankind did not create.”
“If Jesus is in the storm, then there is no need for us to be in the boat. Yet, too many Christians spend all of their time wandering around the marina being in neither boat nor storm.”
“We might wish to take note of the fact that it is within the impoverishment of our own thinking that we create these innumerable strategies which we brazenly herald as the means to mankind’s salvation. And the means by which to halt the incessant travesties that this failed reality repeatedly births is to acknowledge the impoverishment of our relationship with the God who has already secured our salvation.”
“How do I come to believe in God? Immerse yourself in the alternatives.”
“Mankind is on a mission to free itself from a God whose mission is to free us from ourselves. And if our mission prevails, we won’t.”
“It seems that we are not in a state of disbelief regarding the existence of God. Rather, we are in a state of rebellion against His existence. But have we not yet come to understand that in the end, that kind of rebellion is a rebellion against our own existence?”
“More often than not, it’s not that we don’t believe in God. Rather, it’s that we don’t want to.”
“It is not ignorance that causes me to follow God, nor is it escapism through some rigorously contrived fantasy. Rather, those are the things that keep me from following the world.”
“If you deem me as being a fool because I believe in God, I would only have you look around at the chaos and carnage in the world today and ask what kind of fool would believe in men who don’t believe in God?”
“Yes, I believe that God cries. For the heart of any true parent is shattered beyond reparation when they have invested their greatest treasures in their children only to have their children recklessly trample upon those riches as if they were the stuff of nothing. And once they’ve trampled them sufficiently, to then watch them set out on some spurious path wherein the children live out the whole of their lives themselves being trampled. Oh yes, God cries. Yet, it is I who stands on this road with riches forfeited crying not for the poor choices that I’ve made, but because I am the child who made God cry.”