Opportunity for the Gospel

I’m just about starting to feel like I am back in circulation now…feeling a bit more like myself!

Anyway, I was lying awake last night thinking about my trip to Russia and my mind turned towards Geoff Ryans books ‘Sowing Dragons’ and ‘Siren Call of a Dangerous God.’ So many stories in there that have challenged and inspired me over the last few years and then I realise to myself that I will probably be rubbing shoulders with the same people Geoff wrote about.

I’m not really sure what to expect. I know the Army has had some trouble getting re-esablished in Russia legally, but I doubt very much if that has hampered the spirit of the soldiers there. I hesitate to say that it will be a weekend of ‘authentic Army’, but there you go, I’ve said it. Salvationism that isn’t salvationism isn’t worth its salt. By that I mean that, actually, sometimes we are guilty of the old ‘how can salt which looses its saltiness be salty again’ syndrome. It’s one of those trips where you think ‘Oh…I better pack my flag!’

Sometimes though, for me, energy can be a factor in not being as salvationist as one could be! Certainly this last week, recovering from a very difficult week of ministry with the family last week, energy is not something I’ve had. There has to be time for rest and refreshing so that we can fight all the more.

Last week I stood in front of around 400 godless family and close friends and proclaimed that hope and salvation are only in Jesus. Now, some of my apologetic emergent friends would have avoided any form of confrontation or bold assertion. Thing is…when you have 400 people standing before you lost you want to be able to tell them how to be found…at least I do. I could, (and probably will) be in relationship with these people for a long long time…relationship is good…but in the last ten years ‘relationship’, although its been build and developed, hasn’t saved any of em yet. That is because it is not relationship that saves.

You will forgive me for being extreme, will you not? Lets hear your answers, was it a time for plattitudes, or was it an opportunity for the gospel?

Well, when you find after the service that people are starting to book you up for their funeral, I guess telling it straight worked OK!! My old great-uncle said to me ‘Andra…can ye dae anythin fur me old son? I’ve lived my life fur ma self and ma family but it won’t be long until a’ these folk will be drinkin’ a toast tae me.’

What do you say? So you say, ‘Don’t worry uncle Jimmy, it’ll turn out alright’ or do say ‘Well, uncle, this is a good step in our relationship that we can talk about this’ ? I can’t even think what the apologetic emergent would say in this situation…so far removed am I! Do you just say God loves you? Or what? Answers on a postcard please emergents.

You will imagine how I replied to him anyway.

Random collection of thoughts, admittedly, but it does all come back to what its about. This last week, and I am sure this weekend, will remind me that actually, we don’t always have the time to simply be nice and say God loves you. The world never has, and never will be won like that…sorry, but it won’t.

If you agree, you will feel inclined to shout ‘Blood and Fire’ and the top of our voice ;o)


4 thoughts on “Opportunity for the Gospel

  1. mate, I know what you’re saying…. many times, I ve ‘done’ funerals and only on one occasion was I specifically forbidden to (a) use the bible and (b) not sing anything….. THAT ONE was the only time when I seriously thought (in hindsight, of course…) “blimey, why bother being there?” but you know, even that is significant ie being there, because there are some ‘clergy’ who would not entertain the idea of doing funerals, unless the deceased were one of their flock…. I always make a point of relating the sorrow of departed loved ones to the sorrow that God feels for His straying kids viz us! usually I drag out my trusty old fender telecaster and sing (after all, it’s a captive audience, right?) my ‘one trick pony’ song about the accountability we all have to grapple with….. often takes’em by surprise (don’t tell me he’s gonna sing rock’n’roll at a funeral?!), and yet almost without exception, I get positive feedback from family and friends about how the occasion went…. hi-jacking a funeral for a gospel blast lacks integrity, but presence evangelism is the key…

  2. Thought provoking. I pray all goes well with your trip, and that it is a wonderful blessing for all concerned. I found it very hard to take my grandfather’s funeral a few months ago, but I managed it, and people gave me good feedback, including those who have always maintained they have no religious belief.

  3. Hi AndrewI appreciate your blog. I’m also uncomfortable in our comfortable Army, but probably struggling more than you to express it. Mind you, I also scored high on Holiness (see here http://nineteensixtythree.blogspot.com/2005/06/im-into-holiness-yes.html)I recently had to do a funeral which was supposed to have only one hymn and the Lord’s prayer. I took it on, but made sure the gospel featured in my talk. Very positive feedback from the family, including the alleged atheists. I usually include somewhere John 14, “no one comes to the Father except through me” and a line that offers an invitation. Never had anyone ask about getting saved though. Then again, most of my funerals are for total strangers, so there’s no relational hook.Keep writing and keep preaching the gospel. You’re a challenge and encouragement to me.Steven

  4. If preaching the gospel at a funeral lacks integrity we’re missing the point. I’m not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for our salvation. As I said, you can be present at as many things as you like, but presence evangelism is useless if not combined with proclamation, power and persuasion on occasions.

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