Friday, February 24, 2006

Do We Need to Earn the Right to be Heard? - Part 1

More than once I have heard the quote, "They won't care about what you know until they know that you care." This clever saying sounded good to me. I thought to myself, as servants of Christ we MUST show genuine love and concern for all men. As 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, without love we are nothing, just a bunch of loud noise. Then I heard someone say that we should not only show that we care through acts of love and mercy, but we must also "earn the right to be heard." I heard this from someone whose heart and intention was reaching the lost through building relationships. Relationships that are built on trust, mutual respect, and genuine love and concern. It sounds good, but something wasn't quite sitting right within me.

Earning the right to be heard seems to have become a mantra echoed in many evangelical circles, especially those who are involved in the academic side of cross cultural missions, discipleship, and evangelism. Recently, at a theological forum I attended in the Philippines entitled, "Naming the Unknown God" I heard it again. This time, added to it was the statement, "In order to preach the gospel successfully, it Must be preceded by works of mercy, diakonia, and kindness." Also repeated several times at this conference were words like, "We need to talk less and let our lives be the testimony to those we hope will come to Christ." I agree that believers' lives should be so transformed by Christ that we can't help but display the love and character of Him. However, should this be our primary means of sharing the gospel?

During this theological forum many verses were running through my head. The first of which Romans 1:16 which says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Another verse that I kept thinking about was pointed out to me by my friend Joshua Santiago. It is 2 Tim. 1:8 were Paul tells Timothy, "So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." I was getting the feeling that the people at this forum were more afraid of being persecuted, martyred, or made fun of for their faith than they were of God.

I don't know who coined the phrase, "You need to earn the right to be heard," but does that idea come from the bible? What does the bible have to say on the subject? Did Jesus, the Apostles, and the disciples of the early church earn the right to be heard before they shared the gospel? That's what I'm going to explore and write about next time.